The Big Sky Conference Basketball Tournament has come and gone and included a women’s championship without the one or two seeds and back-to-back championship victory on the men’s side.
The University of Idaho (UI) captured the regular season conference title racking up an impressive 16-4 conference record, while the rest of the field was tightly contested.
The Cats opened up against Portland State (PSU). MSU struggled to find a victory against the Vikings in the regular season, dropping both matchups. In their final meeting, the Cats came out fighting and held a three-point lead at halftime. A tough second-half defense by the Vikings coupled with poor shooting by the Cats spelt the end of MSU’s season as the Vikings went on to win 68-56.
The Vikings played for the Big Sky Conference title against Eastern Washington (EWU) after upsetting UI. EWU knocked off Idaho State and Northern Colorado to make it to the championship game. A tough back-and-forth battle ensued which saw the Vikings come out on top with a 61-59 victory over the Eagles. PSU went on to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and faced off against the University of Oregon. The Ducks easily handled the Vikings and came away with a 78-40 victory.
The University of Montana (UM) Grizzlies captured their second straight regular season conference championship with a record of 16-4 in conference.
To begin the tournament the Cats faced off against UI, the lowest seed. A scrappy Vandals team rallied late in the game cutting MSU’s lead to one point. A late-game steal by senior guard Tyler Hall and some clutch free-throw shooting sent the Cats to the next round with a 75-71 victory. MSU faced the EWU Eagles in the quarterfinals. The Cats fought hard throughout, but untimely blocked and missed shots saw the Cats’ season end in a 90-84 Eagles victory.
EWU made their way to the championships where they faced off against UM. The Eagles found their rhythm — eventually building a 12-point lead over the Griz, but UM’s deep bench fought back and the Griz took the Big Sky Conference title 68-62 to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years.
The Griz met the University of Michigan Wolverines for the second straight year. TUM struggled during the first half, hitting only nine of 33 shots. Michigan ran away in the second half en route to a 74-53 victory.