Dec. 22, 2010
Fullerton, Calif. -
Art Steward came off the bench to score 24 points and Will Cherry added 18 Wednesday night as Montana overcame a slow start to defeat Cal State Fullerton, 71-57, in the pre-conference tune-ups for both teams.
The Grizzlies (8-4) overcame an early 16-4 deficit by outscoring the Titans (4-8) 31-8 over the final 12 minutes of the first half. Montana scored the first 4 points of the second half for a 39-24 lead and the margin was between 10 and 17 points the rest of the way.
The win completed a home-and-home sweep for Montana and was Fullerton's first home non-conference loss in exactly three years, a streak of 13 consecutive wins.
Steward hit 8 of 10 shots from the floor and 8 of 11 at the foul line.
Jer'Vaughn Johnson led Fullerton with 15 points but the bright spot was forward Andre Hardy, who had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in his Titan debut after a redshirt season and ankle surgery.
"This game was a bad barometer for going into conference play," said CSF Coach Bob Burton. "Montana is a good team and hard to play because of their size inside. We never recovered from their spurt. We began playing good offense and defense, but when the shots quit falling, it became contagious and our defense suffered.
"It was really discouraging. The only encouraging thing was Andre Hardy."
Fullerton shot a season-low 33 percent from the floor. Bigger Montana won the battle of the boards, 40-30, led by Brian Qvale's 10, and secured the lead by hitting 24 of 29 free throws. Montana won in Missoula on Nov. 30, 75-67. In that game, Devon Peltier led Fullerton with 20 points but tonight he hit only his first and last shots for 7 points with 10 misses in between.
Fullerton will begin Big West Conference play vs. UC Davis Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. in Titan Gym. Montana opens Big Sky Conference play Wednesday at home vs. Northern Arizona.