Ward hadn't played a game since sustaining an injury to the arch of his foot on February 16th in a win against Idaho State. He underwent surgery last Wednesday and the college career of the 6-7 senior from Gig Harbor, Washington is over. Ward hopes to play professionally, so having the surgery done now will give him time to heal and prepare for that opportunity.
"It was a deal where we were thinking about his future and getting that surgery done so that he might have opportunities to play in the future," said coach Wayne Tinkle in a statement released by the school. "It's just too bad it had to happen late in the season in his senior year. We will definitely miss him out on the floor."
Ward played in 118 games at Montana and started in 55. Overall he scored 933 points during his career with 324 rebounds. This season he played in 24 games, averaging 14.7 points per game, fifth in the Big Sky Conference. He earned "Big Sky Conference Player of the Week" honors twice and was also named to the Capital One Academic All-America Team.
"You lose a big scorer- obviously he was our leading scorer at almost 15 points a game," said assistant coach Jonathan Metzger-Jones. "He was very strong and could handle bigger players inside when he was on defense. He was strong enough to go up against players two to three inches bigger than him just because he was tough. And he brings an element to the offensive side where he can score inside but then also we could run some plays because he was such a good shooter to get him free on the perimeter. So those are things that we have to make up."
At senior night last Thursday, Ward was there, cheering on his teammates. "He said he would be at the game on crutches cheering us on and be there for senior night and go through the whole senior night procession," Metzger-Jones said.
With the Big Sky Conference in play, expect to see Will Cherry return from his broken foot.
Reference: NBC Sports and Montana Kaimin.
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