Blue Hawks men's basketball falls in NCAA D-I matchup

Blue Hawks basketball loses 78-51 to the University of Montana.

Bryce Knox recorded 20 points in the Blue Hawks' recent game against the University of Montana. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

With only eight players against the full NCAA Division-I University of Montana roster, the NAIA Division-II Dickinson State Blue Hawks hoped to pull off the David vs Goliath scenario, but in the end it was Goliath with the victory.

The Blue Hawks (3-4) came into its contest on Friday with its eight man roster knowing it was going to be a tough battle against the highly-favored Griz (3-4). which had recently defeated PAC-12 opponent Washington 66-58 coming into its contest against Dickinson State.

Senior transfer Bryce Knox notched his third straight game of scoring at least 20 points for the Blue Hawks and was the only player to score over eight points in his total of 35 minutes on the court. Forwards John Evans and Ajdin Toskic combined for 16 points, Evans playing 33 minutes and Toskic playing 26, and Nashiem Lozier and Stephen Steinbron combined for 10 points, Lozier playing 26 minutes and Steinbron playing 17 in the Blue Hawks' 78-51 loss.

With Dickinson State's tallest player being only 6-foot-6-inches, the Griz had a fairly easy time scoring in the post, scoring 54 of its 78 points inside the paint compared to the Blue Hawks' 16. Michael Steadman, the 6-foot-10-inch forward, led the way for the Griz with 18 points, followed by 6-foot-9-inch Josh Bannan and 6-foot-8-inch Kyle Owens recorded 10. The trio combined for 26 of the Griz 46 rebounds.

"They're really big, they got a really big team," Selvig said. "They outsized us and we got in a little bit of foul trouble and we tried to make some adjustments but they're a good team."


Despite the odds, limited players, and height disadvantage, head coach Derek Selvig was nothing but proud of his team's effort against one of its toughest opponents in program history.

"(I'm) super-proud of our guys," Selvig said. "We're just limited body-wise and we're just super-happy that these guys get to play some games ... we're just going to try and continue that hard work moving forward."

Dickinson State never held the lead in the match, with Steadman scoring the first two points of the night for Montana and starting what would become a 12-2 run, with senior Ajdin Toskic scoring the first two points for the Blue Hawks.

Dickinson State seemingly began to climb its way back into the ball game, connecting on 48.3% of its shots from the field and hitting 30% of its 3-point attempts compared to Montana which shot 54.5% from the field and 25% from 3-point range. However, the Griz's large height advantage led to domination on the boards, as they recorded 23 rebounds in the half compared to the Blue Hawks' six.

The Blue Hawks continued to battle and despite their largest deficit being 14, the team only trailed by eight going into the second half.

"They battled all night, that was the big focus was just having effort. We talked about that all week ... we came over here and played a Division I school with eight guys and they just kept fighting, they didn't give up and I'm super proud of them."

Montana may have respected the Blue Hawks' tough grit and determination, but came out with a passion in the second half and played solid defense against its opponent. They made it very difficult for DSU to put up good shots.

Following a 3-pointer by Knox to start the second half, the Griz responded by going on an 8-0 run to take a 13 point lead. Minutes later, with the score 53-40, Montana held Dickinson State scoreless for nearly seven minutes of play but going on an 11-0 run to take a 64-41 lead with 8:34 remaining.


From there, Montana held its foot on the throttle and drove off with the insurmountable 78-51 win. The Griz torched the Blue Hawks in the second half, despite hitting only one 3-pointer in the second half out of nine attempts, the team hit 55.6% of its shots in the half and obtained 23 rebounds compared to the Blue Hawks' 21.7% shooting and 12 rebounds.

The Blue Hawks may have not recorded a win on Friday, but for Selvig, every game the team plays is a victory within itself.

"The biggest thing of I think this year more than anything is that we actually got to play (Friday)," Selvig said. "That really helps guys get some rhythm, we've gone a couple two week spans where we haven't played. It's really hard to build that rhythm and figure that out and I think our guys got a little bit of confidence back in them after tonight."

Dickinson State will not have to wait long for a chance at ending its losing streak with a home game scheduled at Scotts Gymnasium on Saturday against Carroll College.

"We're super excited about that game," Selvig said. "Our guys just want games and when you go two weeks without playing it wears on guys."

The Blue Hawks are scheduled to tip off against the Saints at 7 p.m.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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