A battle between the Big East and the Big Sky turned into a big mismatch.
Syracuse was superior in all facets of the game and blew out Montana 81-34 in Thursday's East Regional at HP Pavilion.
The No. 4 seed Orange (27-9) will face No. 12 Cal (21-11) on Saturday in a round of 32 game at approximately 6:45 p.m.. The Golden Bears upset No. 5 UNLV 64-61 earlier Thursday night.
"We have high expectations," Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams said. "We expected to get past the first round. That game's behind us. Now we're focused on California. They're a good team."
Brandon Triche led Syracuse with a game-high 20 points. Nobody from Montana (25-7) finished with more than five.
Syracuse, which tied for fifth place during the regular season in the powerful Big East Conference, rolled up a huge lead early on the Grizzlies, champions of the Big Sky Conference.
The Orange scored 20 of the game's first 24 points and for much of the game was shooting at a better than 60 percent clip.
Montana, meanwhile, couldn't hit from the outside, struggled to convert in the paint and was often sloppy with the ball. The Grizzlies only made five field goals in the first half and trailed 38-15.
"We couldn't hit shots," said Montana's Will Cherry, an Oakland native from McClymonds High. "When you don't hit shots, you can't open up their zone like we wanted to."
The crowd of 17,997 that filled the area for
the opening game of the night session steadily streamed out as Syracuse pushed to lead up to 50 during a second half that bordered on unwatchable.
Cherry struggled in his final collegiate game. He finished with just two points on 1 of 12 shooting and had five turnovers and no assists.
It was a tough end to a great college career for Cherry that saw his teams reached the NCAA tournament three times in four years.
"We always can win our conference but winning an NCAA tournament game is a whole different ballgame," Cherry said. "It's something we need to be able to do. Hopefully they do it when I leave. We can't just be satisfied with getting here.
"It's definitely been a great career. I don't know how many people from a mid-major conference can they say they've been here and wore that (NCAA) patch three different times. So I'm definitely grateful for my experience here at the University of Montana."
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