Sophomore Casey Oliverson opened the game with a left-handed hook inside and Cal Hanks followed with an arching jumper from the elbow to put the Thunderbirds out in front 4-0. The Grizzlies came back with six straight to lead 6-4 five minutes in.
After two Montana turnovers and back-to-back baskets from senior Jaren Jeffery, Southern Utah claimed a 9-8 edge halfway through the opening period. Trey Kennedy knocked down a jumper and was fouled on a drive to stretch the difference to 13-10 for SUU.
Jamar put up nine points for the visitors during the last six minutes of the half, including a run of eight straight, but Oliverson collected six of his of own over the same stretch to keep Southern Utah ahead by a count of 25-22 heading into the break.
SUU shot 45 percent from the field in the early going while holding the Grizzlies to a mark of 31.8 percent. The Thunderbirds held a 15-14 rebounding advantage for the period and a 12-8 edge on points in the paint.
Southern Utah hit its first three shots of the second period to up the lead to six as sophomore forward A.J. Hess sank a jumper for his first basket of the night. Mario Dunn answered with a three for the visitors and the Grizzlies used an 11-2 rally to go ahead 36-33. Thunderbird guard John Marshall got inside for a lay-in and Race Parsons added a three from the corner to give the lead back to Southern Utah.
The two sides went back-and-forth from there until the final three minutes when Montana used an 8-2 run to go up by eight. Jordan Gregory and Keron DeShields both connected from the outside and the Grizzlies collected their last five points at the foul line to come away with the 69-61 decision.
SUU finished shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 81.0 percent at the foul line. The Thunderbirds led 30-24 on the glass and 16-4 in bench scoring. Montana checked in at 47.6 percent from the floor and went 7-16 from 3-point territory.
Jamar led all scorers with 25 points on 7-12 shooting. Gregory added another 15 for the visitors while Dunn and DeShields also finished in double figures. Kennedy put up 17 points for Southern Utah and handed out five assists. Oliverson turned in 14 points and seven rebounds for the T-Birds.
SUU returns to the court this Saturday to host visiting Montana State. The game is scheduled to get underway at 7:00 p.m. with coverage available online at www.suutbirds.com.