Eastern Washington forward Venky Jois (55) celebrates during the closing seconds of an NCAA college basketball game against Montana in the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship in Missoula, Mont., Saturday, March 14, 2015. (AP Photos/Michael Albans)
AP Photo
March 14, 2015

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) With his team down 11 and time running out, Tyler Harvey did what he does best - score.

The nation's leading scorer had 12 of his 18 points in the second half and Eastern Washington beat Montana 69-65 in the Big Sky championship game Saturday night to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.

''We've worked a long time for this moment right here,'' Harvey said. ''It's just nice to come out on top. ... You dream about this moment when you're a kid. Just to be in that moment, seeing that confetti, it's like something you watch on TV.''

Montana led 59-48 with 6:15 to go, prompting Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford to call a timeout.

''We've been there before,'' Hayford said. ''And we said `Let's do this. Let's go out and play to win and put the pressure on them and get them to start playing not to lose.'''

Felix Van Hofe made a 3-pointer to cap a 14-2 run and give the Eagles (26-8) a 62-61 lead with 2:10 to go. Harvey completed a three-point play with 43 seconds left to make it 67-63.

''We got to that 5 1/2-minute mark and that's when we came unraveled against their pressure,'' Montana coach Travis DeCuire said. ''Once those guys got a little comfortable and their bigs came back in, shots that were hitting the front of the rim started going in.''

Drew Brandon added 16 points for Eastern Washington.

Martin Breunig led Montana (20-12) with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Mike Weisner had 18 points, and Jordan Gregory 16.

''We had some let downs,'' Gregory said. ''And they took advantage of it. They started jacking up the pressure, and we had a lot of offensive possessions where we couldn't create good shots.''

The victory was the Eagles' first over the Grizzlies in the conference tournament.

TIP INS

Eastern Washington: Harvey came into the tournament with a chip on his shoulder after being snubbed for the Big Sky's regular-season MVP award. The junior averaged 23 points in the three-game tournament.

Montana: Montana's made its third title-game appearance in six years. The Grizzlies won two of those times, in 2011 and 2012. It was their 14th straight tournament appearance.

NEXT UP:

Eastern Washington: NCAA Tournament.

Montana: As Big Sky regular-season champions, the Grizzlies will get an automatic NIT bid.

You May Like