MISSOULA, Mont. – Jordan Lester scored 18 points to help visiting Whitworth challenge the University of Montana before falling 72-60 to the NCAA Division I Grizzlies on Friday night at Dahlberg Arena.
It was the season-opener for Montana, a team hoping to challenge for a Big Sky conference title, but an exhibition game for Whitworth.
The Pirates led for most of the first half and went to the locker rooms trailing only 32-29. Lester hit a pair of free throws to give Whitworth a 35-34 lead early in the second half. It was the final lead of the game for the Bucs as Montana answered with an 11-0 run.
Ahmad Rorie's basket increased the Grizzlies' lead to 60-41 with just under seven minutes to play. But Whitworth had one more run and pulled within 67-57 on Kyle Roach's layup with 3:13 to go. That's as close as the Bucs would get.
Roach added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Whitworth, while Ben Bishop added nine points and ten boards.
Rorie scored a game-high 21 points for Montana, Bob Moorehead had 14 and Michael Oguine finished with ten.
The Pirates will officially open their season at midnight on November 15th against the University of La Verne in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.