University of Jamestown sharpshooter Sam Johnson was having some fun with the student section Monday night at the McDowell Activity Center.

A little trash talk was exchanged in both directions, but Johnson and Jimmies ended up having the last laugh.

Johnson sank six of Jamestown's 13 3-pointers to spoil the Marauders' season opener 86-76 in front of a large and raucous home crowd.

"It's all in good fun. I do that when I go to games too," Johnson said of his back-and-forth with U-Mary student section. "This is a fun place to play, and obviously a great night for our team."

It was not for the Marauders, however, who were hoping to get off to a strong start. While disappointed, U-Mary head coach Joe Kittell was not about to push the panic button.

"Not a good night for us, obviously, but all credit goes to Jamestown, they played really well," Kittell said. "The sky's not falling. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do, but this is not the end of the world."

The game did not count in the win-loss record for the Jimmies, who are off to a strong 6-2 start and have one of their most promising teams in years.

Kevin Oberweiser led the Jimmies with 23 points, including five triples. Johnson totaled 21 points and Leighton Sampson added 20 points, including three dunks. The last of which, a vicious one-hander over two Marauder defenders, pretty much iced it at 81-66.

"This is a big win for us, but we don't want it to be a high-water mark or have it define our season," UJ head coach Danny Neville said. "Mary has a good program. Joe (Kittell) always does a really good job, so from that standpoint, we feel good about what we were able to do tonight."

The Jimmies were hot from the start. They knocked down 11 of 18 3-point attempts in the first half and led 50-37 at the break.

"Giving up 50 points is just unacceptable. That's not going to work with the type of team we have, or under any circumstance, really," Kittell said. "There were too many times we didn't get out to their shooters and they made us pay.

"I think I'll have nightmares tonight about Sam Johnson. He was great for them."

After trailing by as many as 23 in the second half, the Marauders made a couple of mini runs. Keith Hunter cut the deficit to 68-55 with a 3-ball midway through the second half.

Later, Trevor Zacher powered in two points in the paint to again get within 13 (74-61), but the Jimmies always had the answer.

"Every game is important, but you do look forward to games like this against D-II teams," Johnson said. "They have a really good team. I'm sure they'll have a good season, but this was a great night for the Jimmies."

Zacher had a strong start to his season. The senior from Beulah stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Tom Kubank and Matthew Kreklow each added 11 points for the Marauders, who play at Montana State Billings on Thursday night.

"We just have to figure out how to play together and play for all 40 (minutes). You could definitely tell Jamestown has played nine games and this was our first," Kittell said. "We have good players, but it takes time. We'll get back to work. We'll get better and we'll be fine." 

For the Jimmies, former Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock standout Jon Purintun had nine points, eight assists and five rebounds. Ben Weisbeck, the ex-St. Mary's star, added seven points, seven boards and three assists.

Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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