NCAA Tourney a Homecoming for Griz Players

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA — Thursday’s second-round NCAA tournament game between Montana and Syracuse will be a homecoming of sorts for Grizzlies guard Will Cherry.

The East Regional matchup will be held in San Jose, Calif., just south of Cherry’s hometown of Oakland.

Kareem Jamar, who also is from California, tells the Missoulian he and Cherry should get a number of fans to turn out for the game.

Cherry says the San Jose venue is like a flashback to 2010 when the Griz pushed New Mexico to the wire before losing 62-57.

Montana is seeded 13th in the East Regional and is making its third NCAA appearance in the last four years.

Syracuse is seeded fourth. The Orange are ranked 19th and are coming off a loss to Louisville in the Big East championship.

Griz, Lady Griz Advance to NCAA Tournaments

The University of Montana has two teams taking part in March Madness.

The Montana men’s basketball team defeated Weber State 67-64 last weekend to win the Big Sky Conference championship and secure an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. The Griz (25-6) earned a 13th seed in the East Regional and will face 19th-ranked and No. 4 seed Syracuse. The teams play Thursday, March 21 at 7:57 p.m. in San Jose, Calif.

The Griz are playing in NCAA tournament for the 10th time in school history and second in a row. Montana has now won nine Big Sky titles and five in the last nine seasons. Montana has won 21 of its last 23 games, and has 30 straight home victories over Big Sky teams.

Junior Kareem Jamar was named the tourney MVP, becoming just the fourth player in Big Sky history to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Senior point guard Will Cherry was also named to the all-tournament team, along with UM sophomore guard Jordan Gregory.

The victory placed seventh-year head coach Wayne Tinkle into the record books as he became the first coach to take Montana to the NCAA tournament three times. He also tied UM’s record for 25 wins in a season, a feat his 2011-12 team accomplished a year ago.

The Lady Griz defeated Northern Colorado 56-43 to win the Big Sky Conference championship and also advance to the NCAA women’s tournament.

The Montana women are playing in their 20th NCAA tournament in the last 31 years, all under longtime head coach Robin Selvig.

The Lady Griz (24-7) find out who they’ll face in the bracket later Monday.

Senior Kenzie De Boer, who was named tournament MVP, scored 19 points for the Lady Griz. Katie Baker, who was named to the all-tournament team, had eight points and nine rebounds for Montana.

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