BIG SKY ROUNDUP: Sac State denies UND first Big Sky title



All but two seeds at next week’s Big Sky Conference men’s basketball tournament will be decided on Saturday as Thursday’s action tightened the gap between the league’s teams. North Dakota and Eastern Washington are now tied atop the conference standings at 14-4 while Weber State, Idaho, Montana State and Montana are all in the running for a first-round bye. EWU and UND have clinched the top two seeds.

Montana can sew up a bye with a win at Idaho State on Saturday. Montana State can earn the No. 3 seed with a win over Weber State on Saturday. Weber State can finish third with a win over MSU or sixth with a loss. Idaho can finish fourth or fifth with a win, sixth with a loss.

Sacramento State 57, North Dakota 53 (click on score line for full box score) – North Dakota’s hope to seal the No. 1 seed at next week’s tournament was dashed as Sacramento State picked up a big road win in Grand Forks. Justin Strings and Nick Hornsby scored 15 points each to lead the Hornets to victory in a game in which neither team led by more than five points. Sacramento State (9-8 in BSC, 12-16 overall) can finish no worse than seventh in the conference standings.

Drick Bernstine scored 15 points while Quinton Hooker added 12 to lead UND (14-4, 18-9). The Fighting Hawks can clinch the No. 1 seed and a share of the regular-season title on Saturday with a win over Portland State.

Idaho guard Victor Sanders (11)

Idaho guard Victor Sanders (11)

Idaho 77, Northern Arizona 75 – The Vandals (11-6, 16-12) moved into a tie for third in the league standings with Montana State and Weber State thanks to a hard-fought win at Northern Arizona. Victor Sanders returned from a one-game hiatus due to a leg injury to lead four Vandals in double-figures with 21 points. The Vandals can clinch a top-five seed with a win at Southern Utah on Saturday. UI can finish as high as fourth and as low as sixth.

Northern Arizona (5-12, 8-22) will be the No. 9 seed at the Big Sky tournament and will open tournament play against No. 8 seed Portland State on Tuesday at 2:35 p.m. Pacific.
Northern Colorado 87, Portland State 84 – The Bears (6-11, 10-18) topped Portland State in their second-to-last game of the season. UNC saw five players reach double-figures with Jordan Davis leading the way with 25 and Kai Edwards adding 18.

Zach Gengler led PSU with 19 points. With the loss, the Vikings (7-10, 14-14) locked up the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament.
Eastern Washington 91, Southern Utah 75 – The Eagles topped SUU in Cedar City, Utah, to move into a tie for first in the league standings at 14-4, 21-9 overall. A win at NAU and a UND loss to Portland State will give the Eagles the No. 1 seed at the Big Sky tournament. Bogdan Bliznyuk led the way with 32 points while Jacob Wiley scored 18 points to go along with 13 boards.

Randy Onwuasor’s 28 points paced the Thunderbirds. SUU needs a win against visiting Idaho and an ISU loss to Montana on Saturday to pick up the 10th seed at the conference tournament.

Press release written by Big Sky communications director Jason Ashcraft. 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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