This Week’s Big Sky Athletic Highlights

The final week of the 2012-13 regular season promises to be memorable. Six teams enter the final week still in the hunt for four spots in the Big Sky Championship. Montana and Weber State are battling for the regular-season title, and the right to host the conference tournament. Eleven games remain until the dust settles on Saturday night. The action begins Monday with a big game in Cedar City as league-leading Montana travels to Southern Utah(8-9). With its sights set on a second straight regular-season title, Montana then returns home to face Sacramento State and Northern Arizona…Second-place Weber State is at home against Portland State and Eastern Washington. PSU has been eliminated from postseason contention. EWU needs two road wins at ISU on Thursday and at WSU on Saturday, as well as other help to make the tournament…MSU, NAU and Sac State all enter the final week 8-10 in league. The Bobcats are at home against both teams, taking on NAU on Thursday and Sacramento State on Saturday…North Dakota (11-8) clinched a bid, and closes out at home against SUU on Saturday…Northern Colorado (9-10) plays its final regular season game on Thursday at home against Southern Utah…ISU, which has been eliminated from postseason contention is at home against EWU and PSU.

Around the Big Sky

RECORDS FOR LEAGUE WINS: With league teams playing 20 conference games for the first time this season, the conference record for league victories in a season was bound to fall. Weber State and Montana have each reached the 16-win mark in conference. The previous record was 15 set by Weber State twice and Montana once. WSU went 15-0 in 1969-70. The Wildcats went 15-1 in 2007-08, and Montana went 15-1 last season. Montana is 31-2 in regular-season conference games since last season. Weber State is 30-4.

GRIZZLIES REACH 20 WINS: Montana won its 20th game of the season with a 71-68 victory over Montana State on Saturday. The Grizzlies have won at least 20 games in four straight seasons, a feat accomplished just once before in school history. Montana won at least 20 from 1982-1986. Since the Big Sky began in 1963-64, UM has amassed 17 20-win seasons. In the last four seasons,Montana has compiled and 88-34 record.  

NORTH DAKOTA CLINCHES BID: North Dakota, which joined the Big Sky on July 1, 2012, clinched a postseason bid on Saturday with a 78-74 road win over Eastern Washington.North Dakota beat PSU on Thursday, meaning the Green & White earned its first ever road sweep in Big Sky play.North Dakota became the first league newcomer to make the tournament in its first season since Cal State Northridge in 1997. The 11 league victories are the most ever by a league newcomer. Northridge held the previous mark with eight wins in 1996-97.Southern Utah, which also joined the league on July 1, has won eight conference games. PSU won six its first season in 1996-97. Boise State and Gonzaga won five conference games in 1970-71. Nevada won five in 1979-80.

SALDIVAR NEARS 500: Northern Arizona senior Stallon Saldivar enters the final weekend of the regular season with 499 career assists. Saldivar returned from an ankle injury to dish out 10 assists in two games last week. Saldivar can become just the eighth player in league history to dish out 500 assists. Saldivar will likely finish his career sixth on the Big Sky’s all-time list. Steve Conner (Boise State, 1974-78) is currently sixth with 502 assists. Sacramento State’s DeShawn Freeman (2002-06) is seventh with 501. Montana State’s Scott Hatler (1992-96) is fifth with 601.

GABE GETTING IT DONE: Northern Arizona senior Gabe Rogers is closing out his collegiate career in strong fashion. In his last 12 games,Rogers is averaging 23.2 points per game, and has scored at least 22 points in 10 of those games. He’s made 47 3-pointers in the 12-game run. Rogers enters the final weekend of the regular season – and potentially the final games of his career- with 236 career 3-pointers, which ranks eighth in league history. He’s just 10 3-pointers away from moving into the top five. Rogers has 1,369 career points. Rogers has made 84 3-pointers this season, which is tied for 13th in league single-season history.

BEST IN FEBRUARY: Weber State has compiled a 32-4 record in February over the past five seasons. WSU’s winning percentage of .889 is the best of any team in February over the past five seasons. Oakland of the Summit League was 31-5 (.886) the last five years in February, while Gonzaga was 37-5 (.881). Duke was fourth at .833 (35-7) and Belmont, Kansas and Memphis were tied for fifth at 33-7. (.825).

RPI UPDATE: Weber State, winners of nine straight games, has improved its RPI to 90 entering the final week of the regular season. The Wildcats are 10 spots ahead of Montana. The Big Sky is ranked 28th among Division I conferences.

Tip-ins: Road teams won eight of the 10 conference games last week. Home teams are now 62-37 in conference play. PSU is the only team without a conference road win. The Vikings are 0-8 on the road in league and 0-12 overall on the road…SUU’s Jackson Stevenett has scored in double figures in 21 straight games, including 10 with at least 20…SUU has a single-season school record 139 blocks this season…EWU has 172 blocked shots. The Eagles need seven to tie the single-season Big Sky record of 179 set by Idaho state in 2005-06…Sacramento State’s Jordan Salley, who entered Saturday’s game with 18 points and 17 rebounds all season, scored 16 points with 10 rebounds in the Hornets’ one-point win over Idaho State…MSU’s Flavien Davis scored a career-high 30 points in a 71-68 loss to Montana…WSU’s Scott Bamforth ranks 10th in Big Sky history with 222 career 3-pointers…Sacramento State’s John Dickson became the 24th player in league history to amass 100 career blocked shots…UND coach Brian Jones won his 100th career game on Saturday….Weber State continues to lead the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage at 43.1 percent. WSU is second in field-goal percentage at 51 percent. The Wildcats are seventh in scoring margin (14.5)…Montana is ninth in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage (39.7) and ninth in free-throw shooting percentage (76.2)…EWU is ninth in the nation in blocked shots per game (5.9)…SUU’s Jackson Stevenett is sixth in the nation in free-throw percentage (89.2), WSU’s Scott Bamforth is 10th (89.0)…WSU’s nine-game winning streak is tied for the ninth longest active streak in the nation…Montana has won 24 consecutive regular-season conference home games and 27 in a row overall against Big Sky teams at home…