Despite November-ending loss to Southern Miss, Montana might have turned one corner

Montana ended November like it started the first month of the season: losing on the road to a team with bigger, more athletic, lengthier players.

But unlike the season-opening losses at Duquesne and Xavier, the Griz gave up nowhere close to the 91 and 86 points they allowed those games. They held Southern Miss to 64 points on Tuesday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

It’s not that they were playing a team much worse than the two they saw on their trips to Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Golden Eagles came into the game ranked 78th in the country with 78.1 points per game and finished the game with an 8-0 record, making them one of 18 teams that’s still undefeated.

The Griz held that team over 14 points below its season average while playing their second road game in three days, going from 6,000 feet above sea level in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to a mere 171 feet in Mississippi. They also committed just eight turnovers leading to two USM points after the Golden Eagles entered the game 11th in the nation by forcing 20.3 per game.

Cold shooting spells still plagued the Grizzlies in the 64-54 loss that dropped them to 3-5 overall and 0-4 on the road. But UM head coach Travis DeCuire could sense a much-needed shift was afoot for a team that left three possible wins out there: against Troy (73-62), Air Force (59-56) and Southern Miss.

“Positive and disappointed at the same time,” he said of his feelings after the game on his postgame radio interview. “I’m happy about the effort and th