MOSCOW, Idaho – Halftime performances by the Lightning Creek drum circle accompanying pow wow dancers typically highlights Idaho’s annual celebration of tribal nations.
Saturday, though, it was Trevon Allen who made Tribal Nations Night memorable. The Vandals’ senior guard and leading scorer, an enrolled member of the Umatilla Tribe, hit a career-high 36 points against Montana.
Unfortunately for Idaho, the Grizzlies withstood that barrage and used a four-minute run early in the second half to turn a game tied at 45 into a double-digit lead on the way to an 82-71 victory.
“They are so dynamic in what they can do offensively. They can score from all five spots,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said of the Grizzlies.
Led by Sayeed Pridgett’s 19 points, Montana (14-10, 10-3 Big Sky) had four scorers in double figures. Pridgett had nine rebounds and a team-high four assists.
“He’s probably the MVP of the league,” Claus said. “He’s that good.”
But Allen outshined Pridgett on 10-of-17 shooting, including going 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. He attacked the hoop relentlessly and drew nine fouls from the Grizzlies. Allen made 12 of 14 free throws.
“It’s a testament to a senior…who knows how to get a job done,” Claus said of Allen’s night.
Allen scored 18 points in the final 11 minutes after Montana had opened up an 11-point lead. It kept the Vandals in contact with the Griz almost to the final horn.
“He tried to get us there at the end. But we couldn’t get enough stops,” Claus said.
Claus saluted the Vandals for keeping the game from becoming a runaway, however.
“They continue to do what we ask. They fight. They compete together. That’s all our coaches can ask of them,” Claus said.
Allen pointed to the presence of tribal members in the audience as inspirational.
“It’s motivation for what I do,” Allen said.
Idaho (6-17, 2-10) led 34-33 at the break following a tightly played first half with four lead changes. Neither team led by more than four points.
Notable for the Vandals was Gabe Quinnett’s 14-point contribution. The freshman came into the game with 8 minutes gone in the first half. He hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, another from the left corner and another from the top of the key. After a short stint on the bench he reentered the game, drew a foul and buried both ends of a 1-and-1. After a loose ball scrum, Idaho emerged with the ball, which found its way to Quinnett in the right corner, where he scored again.
Allen said Quinnett’s outside shooting loosened Montana’s interior defense and allowed him to drive.
“They couldn’t just sit in the key. That was huge,” Allen said of the Grizzlies.
Quinnett credited his teammates for getting him the ball when he had good shots. His shooting performance also got him some first-time attention among autograph seekers following the game.
“I kept looking down that line,” he said. “Oh, my gosh.”
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