Big Sky Conference

Three Big Sky men’s teams join Griz in postseason

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OGDEN, Utah (March 12, 2018) – Montana earned its 11th trip to the NCAA Tournament after claiming its league-record 10th Big Sky tournament title on Saturday at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nev. The Grizzlies defeated Eastern Washington 82-65 in the championship to receive the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Montana begins its postseason run Thursday as the No. 14 seed in the West Region, facing No. 3 seed Michigan at 7:50 p.m. MT at the INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan. The matchup will air on TBS. 

Eastern Washington will continue its season Tuesday in the College Basketball Invitational as the Eagles face Utah Valley at 7 p.m. MT in Orem, Utah.

Northern Colorado and Portland State accepted bids to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Their opponents, dates and times have yet to be announced. .. 

The four teams in addition to Weber State and Idaho all posted 20-win seasons, the most in the 55-year history of the Big Sky Conference. 

Despite each surpassing 20 wins, Idaho and Weber State declined postseason bids.

Montana head coach Travis DeCuire and guard Michael Oguine (0)/by Brooks Nuanez

MONTANA

·         Montana is making its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2013

·         The Grizzlies claimed their 10th Big Sky tournament crown on Saturday to match Weber State for the most in league history

·         Montana has won titles in 1991-92, 1997, 2002, 2005-06, 2010, 2012-13 and 2018

·         The Grizzlies earned the No. 14 seed in the West Region after receiving the Big Sky’s automatic bid following an 82-65 win over No. 3 seed Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Championship at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nev.

·         Montana squares off against No. 3 seed Michigan in its NCAA Tournament opener Thursday at 7:50 p.m. MT at the INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.

·         The game will air on TBS with Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn bringing you the action

·         No. 6 Houston or No. 11 San Diego State will face the winner of Montana and Michigan on Saturday for a chance to advance to the West Regional in Los Angeles

·         The 14th seed is the highest seed for the Big Sky Conference since Eastern Washington earned a 13th seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament

·         The last 14 seed for the Big Sky was Montana in 2010

Montana junior Jamar Akoh celebrates the Big Sky championship

·         The league has earned seven 14 seeds (1985, 1992-95, 1999, 2010) in its history with Weber State collecting first round wins in 1995 and 1999

·         Montana’s win in 2006 as the No. 12 seed comprise the Big Sky’s first round wins since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985

·         Head coach Travis DeCuire leads the Grizzlies into the Big Dance for the first time in his tenure (4th season)

·         Named the 2018 Big Sky Coach of the Year, DeCuire guided Montana to the fourth-best conference start in the league’s 55 seasons at 13-0 this season en route to finishing with a 16-2 record and securing a No. 1 seed in the conference tourney

·         The Grizzlies are one win shy of matching a school record 27 wins, coming into Thursday’s game with a 26-7 overall record

·         Junior guard Michael Oguine averaged 21.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game to pace Montana and earn tournament MVP honors last week

·         Fellow classmate Ahmaad Rorie was also tabbed an all-tournament selection after averaging 20.7 points, 4.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds including a career-best 30 points in an 84-76 quarterfinal win over North Dakota

·         The Grizzlies overcame second half deficits in all three games of the conference tournament last week including a six-point deficit in the final minute against Northern Colorado with junior Bobby Moorehead collecting an offensive board and knocking a game-tying three-pointer with 25 seconds to play in regulation

 

EASTERN WASHINGTON

·         Eastern Washington makes its fourth-straight postseason appearance Tuesday with a 7 p.m. MT tipoff at Utah Valley in Orem for the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI)

Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans

·         The Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history in 2015 and appeared in the CBI in each of the last two seasons, collecting their first postseason victory with a 79-72 win over Pepperdine in 2016

·         EWU enters the postseason with a 20-14 overall record after finishing as runners-up in the Big Sky tournament last week in Reno, Nev., under first-year head coach Shantay Legans

·         The Eagles led No. 1 seed Montana 40-29 at the half before the Grizzlies outscored Eastern 53-25 in the second half and used a 26-4 run to earn the Big Sky’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament

·         Eastern won eight of its last nine games and 17 of its final 23 to earn the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, one of just two teams to hand Montana a loss during conference play

·         Senior guard/forward Bogdan Bliznyuk broke the Big Sky Conference career scoring record Friday during the Eagles’ 82-70 semifinal win over Southern Utah

·         Now with 2,142 points, Bliznyuk surpassed the previous record of 2,102 points set by Idaho’s Orlando Lightfoot in 1994

·         On the week, Bliznyuk also broke the league’s career and single-season tournament scoring records with 193 and 82, points, respectively, to earn all-tournament team honors

·         Bliznyuk also made headlines this season by breaking the NCAA single-season record for consecutive free throws with 77-straight from Dec. 31 to Mar. 8

·         The Lutsk, Ukraine native was tabbed the 2018 Big Sky Most Valuable Player after ranking in the top five in the league in scoring, rebounding and assists during conference play

·         Bliznyuk enters the postseason averaging 21.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game

NORTHERN COLORADO

·         Northern Colorado accepted a bid to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament with the opponent, date and time to be determined

·         UNC will make its third appearance in the CIT (2010, 2014)

Northern Colorado senior Andre Spight

·         The Bears coasted into the Big Sky Conference semifinals last week following an 82-59 win over Northern Arizona in the first round and an 80-55 victory over fourth-seeded Weber State in the quarterfinals

·         In the semifinals versus Montana, UNC built as much as a nine-point first half lead before the Grizzlies knotted up the game at 37 apiece at the break

·         The Bears took an 80-74 advantage into the final minute of regulation before a pair of turnovers and two missed free throws with less than two seconds remaining extended the contest into overtime

·         Montana grabbed as much as a five-point advantage in the extra period before hanging on for the 91-89 victory

·         Senior guard Andre Spight averaged 19.7 points and 5.0 assists per game to earn Big Sky All-Tournament Team honors

·         Junior guard Jordan Davis made headlines with his second half dunk against Montana being tabbed the “Dunk of the Year”

·         Davis averaged 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game to join Spight on the all-tournament team

Portland State head coach Barret Peery

PORTLAND STATE

·         Portland State will join Northern Colorado in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament

·         The Vikings advanced to the Big Sky quarterfinals following a sixth-place conference finish with a 9-9 mark and a 20-13 record on the season

·         PSU’s tournament run came to an end Thursday in a 78-72 loss to No. 3 Eastern Washington

·         The 20-13 record for the Vikings is the third-best season since joining the Big Sky Conference 22 years ago, earning its first postseason bid since 2014 and seventh overall

·         The Vikings have consistently ranked among the top teams in the nation in scoring (85.8, 3rd), turnover margin (+5,4, 1st), steals (9.9, 2nd), turnovers forced (18.1, 2nd) and offensive rebounding (14.6, 2nd)

  • Barret Peery posted the most successful season for a first-year head coach in Portland State history, including a league-best 10-3 non-conference slate

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