South Dakota State 68, at Montana 67 (2 OT)


Senior forward Tony Fiegen made a pair of free throws with 8.9 seconds left in double overtime, as the visiting South Dakota State University Jackrabbits defeated The University of Montana Grizzlies 68-67 in front of a raucous crowd of 3,408 in UM’s Dahlberg Arena Saturday evening.

The loss snapped a 15-game home winning streak by the Grizzlies who evened their record to 4-4, while the Jackrabbits improved to 9-3.  Montana’s winning skein was the eighth longest in the nation.  UM’s last loss was a 70-64 setback to Nevada last season on Dec. 10, 2011.

It was a great college basketball game which featured 19 lead changes and 12 ties.  Both teams had great seasons a year ago, Montana with 25 victories, while SDSU had 27.

The Jackrabbits entered the contest ranked 14th in the nation in the most recent Mid-Major poll, and have now won eight of their last nine games.

The Grizzlies had a chance to take the lead in regulation when sophomore forward Mike Weisner had two free throw opportunities with 12 second remaining.  He missed the first, but made the second, tying the game at 53-53.  SDSU senior guard Nate Wolters’ long-range three-point shot was short, forcing the first OT.

The Jackrabbits jumped to a 59-53 lead with 3:01 left in the first overtime on a lay-up  by junior forward Chad White.  The Griz cut SDSU’s lead to one (59-58) on a three-pointer by Weisner and a lay-up by senior forward Mathias Ward with 1:35 left to play.

Once again the Griz had a chance to take the lead, but junior guard-forward Kareem Jamar made just the first of his two free throw shots, and his charity shot knotted the game up at 59-all with five seconds left in the first OT.  UM sophomore guard Keron DeShield fired up a desperation three-point attempt, but it was long and off to the left, forcing the second overtime.

Montana took a 62-59 lead fairly early (3:49) into the second overtime on a three-point play by Ward.  The Griz maintained that lead throughout the second OT, but SDSU junior guard Brayden Carlson trimmed UM’s cut the lead to 67-66 on a three-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:36 mark.

The Jackrabbits tied the game up at 67-67 – the 12th deadlock in the contest when Fiegen had his first free throw try, and then his second charity shot proved to be the game-winner.  Jamar drove the lane in the final seconds for a possible game-winning shot in the second OT, but Carlson stole the ball from him, and the visitor’s had the hard-fought, emotional victory.

Ward scored a game-high 17 points, while Jamar had 16, and Weisner finished with a career-high 13.  Jamar struggled from the field, going 5-of-14, but he had team-highs of 6 rebounds and 7 assists.

All-Big Sky Conference Griz senior point guard Will Cherry returned to action after missing the last two-and-a-half months because of a foot injury, and he finished with 2 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes of action.

The Griz, which entered the game ranked second in the nation in three-point percentage (44.5%) and 13th in free throw percentage (77.3%), made just 8-of-25 treys (32.0%) 9-of-14 (64.3%) free throws.

SDSU had four players in double figures led by junior forward Jordan Dykstra with 16 and Wolters with 15.  The Griz did a solid job on Wolters, one of the nation’s leading scorers, limiting him to 5-of-21 shooting from the field.  Fiegen had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, as did Dykstra, who had 10 boards, while Carlson chipped in 10 points.

The Jackrabbits had a dominant 47 to 34 advantage in rebounds, and SDSU hauled down 15 offensive boards (UM had 4).

The Griz open Big Sky play with a pair of road games next week, first at Northern Arizona (Dec. 19) then at Sacramento State (Dec. 21).  The game at Montana this evening was the start of a six-game road trip for the Jackrabbits, whose next contest is at Belmont on Dec. 19.

Montana Sports Information  —