Montana tops Weber State to win Big Sky, NCAA bid

NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press Published:

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Kareem Jamar scored 23 points and Montana beat Weber State 85-66 on Wednesday night to win the Big Sky Conference tournament and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Mathias Ward added 23 points as Montana (25-6) set a team record with 14 straight wins and closed with its best record since the 1992 season. The Grizzlies' last loss was Jan. 14 at Weber State.

Damian Lillard, the nation's second-leading scorer, scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Weber State (24-6), which lost in the regular season finale at Montana to give the Grizzlies the regular-season title.

Montana will make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010 and ninth overall. Jubilant fans stormed the floor after the game.

Jamar, a sophomore guard, sank went 9 of 12 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, and added seven assists. Derek Selvig scored 16 points and Will Cherry added 13 for the Grizzlies.

Kyle Tresnak scored 12 points for Weber State.

After Montana trailed by five at halftime, Ward scored the first five points of the second half to tie it at 36.

The teams traded the lead until Ward's jumper sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Grizzlies a 52-43 advantage with 9:38 left. Jamar scored seven of those points, and Weber was held scoreless for nearly 5 minutes as the Wildcats made just 6 of 17 shots to open the second half.

Weber State started making baskets, but Jamar replied with three 3-pointers to give the Grizzlies a 64-54 lead. Montana extended that to 70-56 with 4:30 left.

In the first half, Weber State jumped to an 18-8 lead by making 7 of its first 10 shots, including all four 3-pointers. Derek Selvig's 3 capped a 10-0 Montana run that tied the score at 25.

Lillard converted a three-point play to launch an 11-2 run that gave Weber a 36-27 lead.

Weber State led 36-31 at halftime, after shooting 58 percent while Montana shot 50 percent. Lillard and Selvig each scored 13 points in the first half.

In Tuesday's semifinals, Montana beat Eastern Washington and Weber beat Portland State.

Lillard averages 24 points per game and is the Big Sky most valuable player.

Montana has made 15 title game appearances and won eight times.

Weber State leads the nation in free throw shooting at 81 percent, but got only 10 attempts Wednesday, making eight.