EWU men’s basketball sweeps Montana for first time in 18 years

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Mckenzie Ford

EWU junior guard/forward Kim Aiken Jr.

By Randle Kinswa, Co-Managing Editor/Sports Editor

 

The EWU men’s basketball team (11-2, 12-6) swept the Montana Grizzlies (5-9, 9-12) this year for the first in nearly two decades. 

EWU won the first game, 90-76, and was led in points by junior forward Kim Aiken Jr., who had 21 total points and was 9-12 from the field. 

Before the win on Thursday, EWU had not beaten Montana in their last four match-ups, and now have won nine straight games, which is a school record. 

Aiken Jr. said he credits the team’s success to their chemistry and bond. 

“We do a lot of stuff together,” Aiken Jr. said. “We’re just really a big family … we want to be there for each other … we know what’s expected of each of us so we just go out there and do what we have to do … no one’s trying to be superman … we got to be the Justice League.” 

Sophomore forward Tyler Robertson was second on the team in scoring with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Robertson said he believed that energy played a key role in EWU’s win over Montana. 

“We brought a lot of energy,” Robertson said. “We knew that coming in … the bench had to bring that energy as well … we just had to get into the game plan and make sure we [came out on top] first.”  

Robertson also mentioned that the Montana players from the start of the game were talking trash while on the court and from their bench.

EWU started off the game red hot, including making 14 straight field goals to take an early 27-point lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. Montana would climb back into the game, getting as close as within 10 points with six minutes left in the game. 

Aiken Jr. said he thinks the team’s energy fell off a bit.

“I think we were starting to let up on ourselves a lot,” Aiken Jr. said. “They had two guys on their team that got their career highs,” Aiken Jr. said. “They were getting buckets for their team at critical times.”

Head coach Shantay Legans complimented Montana on the effort they showed.

“Montana is a very good team,” Legans said. “Our team was very upbeat for this game … it started from the beginning.” 

“We’re just really a big family … we want to be there for each other.” -Kim Aiken Jr.

Legans would also mention that EWU was very upbeat and ready to play this game. He said that some foul trouble in the second half changed the way they would normally play, and would also point out that Montana beat EWU on the offensive glass, 12-5. 

Legans complimented Robertson’s effort off the bench, essentially calling him a “sixth” starter.

“[Tyler] is like a starter,” Legans said. “He’s probably one of the top guys in the league in assist-turnover ratio …. he does it all and he’s a great player … we’re lucky to have him.” 

In the second game at Bozeman, Montana, EWU again won 90-76. 

Aiken Jr. led the way once more, but this time with 28 points, a career high, and shot 8-9 from the free throw line, and was 4-5 from beyond the arc. 

Sophomore guard Michael Meadows added 21 points. 

EWU will have one week off, before hosting the Idaho State Bengals (7-3, 12-7) March 3 and March 5. These will be EWU’s last regular season games of the 2020-21 season. 

The Big Sky Conference tournament is scheduled to be March 10-13. As of now, EWU would be the 1st place seed and receive a first-round bye.