Griz Edge Wildcats 76-73 in OT in Big Sky Quarterfinal Game

By DAVE GUFFEY

Junior forward Martin Breunig registered a double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, leading the University of Montana Grizzlies to a gusty 76-73 overtime win over the Weber State Wildcats Thursday evening in a Big Sky Conference Championship quarterfinal game in UM’s Dahlberg Arena.

It was quite an accomplishment by the Grizzlies to force the overtime.  Montana took a 65-64 lead with 1:05 left in regulation on two clutch throws by Breunig.  But, the Wildcats went ahead 67-65 with 31 seconds to go on a three-pointer by guard sophomore Jeremy Senglin.

Montana followed Senglin’s trey with a crucial turnover with 18 seconds left on a steal by sophomore guard Richard Gittens, who was fouled immediately.  Gittens missed both free throw attempts to keep UM’s chances alive, and when Griz senior guard Jordan Gregory was fouled a few seconds later, he nailed two big-time charity shots to knot the game up at 67-all with three seconds remaining to force the overtime.

Gregory then gave the Grizzlies a 69-67 lead early in th overtime (4:57), and Montana would hang on to that slim advantage for the rest of the extra period, but the Wildcats did not go down easily.

With 55 seconds left in the OT, the Wildcats (13-17) sliced the Grizzlies’ lead to just one point at 74-73 on a three-pointer by junior forward Joel Bolomboy.  A half-a-minute later the Griz took an all-important three-point lead at 76-73, as sophomore guard Riley Bradshaw scored on a driving lay-up with 25 ticks left in overtime.  WSU’s Senglin got off a half-court, desperation three-point attempt at the last second, but it was way off the mark, and the Griz had the emotional, comeback “W.”

Gregory struggled shooting-wise from the floor, but he made 6-of-6 key free throws in the second half, and finished with 18 points.  UM freshman forward Fabijan Krslovic added 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, and pulled down 8 rebounds.

Griz senior forward Mike Weisner contributed 8 points and 4 boards off the bench, while sophomore guard Mario Dunn chipped in 6 points, and senior forward Chris Kemp added 5.  Bradshaw’s only points came on his key lay-up with 25 seconds left in the OT.  Dunn fouled out with 2:19 to go in regulation, was limited to 24 minutes of playing time.

Breunig made 9-of-18 shot attempts and 6-of-8 free throws.  It was his sixth double-double of the season.  Gregory scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half.

Senglin, who had missed the last month of the season and Wildcats’ last six games due to a broken jaw, was impressive in his comeback, scoring a game-high 25 points and going 11-of-13 from the line in 32 minutes of action.  Bolomboy had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

BBQThe Griz struggled from three-point range, making just 3-of-17 (17.6%) from behind the arc, while the Cats made 10-of-20.  UM’s 3 treys were its second lowest total of the season  – one off the two it made at home against Southern)Utah

There were 17 leads changes and the score was tied 10 times in the see-saw contest.  The Griz had a key edge in a few categories.  UM out-scored WSU in points off turnovers (17 to 7); points in the paint (24-14); and had a 39 to 32 rebounding edge.  The Wildcats’ bench out-scored UM’s 30-15.   Montana led 35-27 at halftime.

The No. 1-seeded Grizzlies (19-11) will now play the No. 4-Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (19-13) in the tourney semifinal game on Friday, March 13, with tip-off at 8:00 p.m. NAU defeated No. 5-seed Northern Colorado (15-15) earlier this evening.

The other semifinal game Friday is No.2-seed Eastern Washington (24-8) against No. 3-seed Sacramento State (20-10), which tips off at 5:30 p.m.  In other quarterfinal action today, EWU beat Idaho 91-93 today, while the Hornets defeated Portland State 70-60.

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