OGDEN -- The Weber State Wildcats survived a comeback effort from Northern Colorado, winning 66-63 in overtime to advance to the Big Sky Tournament final.
It set up to be a never-forget, eternal-pit-in-your-stomach game for Big Sky MVP Davion Berry. The Weber State senior had scored only eight points, and with the game tied 55-55, watched as Tate Unruh's 17-footer looked true for Northern Colorado.
But Unruh's shot was an inch too long, and overtime gave new life to Berry, determined to advance.
"I had to push through," said Berry postgame. "I'm a senior, so if we lose, I go home. I'm not trying to go home ... I knew I had to push through for my teammates."
Berry opened overtime with a baseline jumper, then followed it with his first three-pointer of the night to give Weber State a five-point lead early in overtime.
But Northern Colorado senior Derrick Barden -- who finished with a game-high 21 -- and junior Tevin Svihovec would not let the game slip away. The two traded hoops over several possessions. After Barden hit a three and another jumper, Weber turned it over and Svihovec cut the deficit to one point with 42 seconds remaining.
It was then when Berry laid his claim to the victory. Berry drove to the hoop, got around his man but was challenged at the rim. Berry twisted, put up a shot of questionable quality -- and it spun on the rim and fell in. It gave Weber State the 66-63 lead, and Jordan Wilson's three attempt for Northern Colorado was wide.
"That last play, I was determined to put the ball in the hole no matter what." Berry said. "And that's pretty much it."
The game appeared to be getting away from the Bears with 10 minutes left. Freshman Richaud Gittens scored a three-point play, then followed it up with a long alley-oop pass to Joel Bolomboy who threw down a forceful dunk. A minute later, Jeremy Senglin knocked down a triple -- and Weber State held a 48-37 lead.
Barden quickly got two makes at the rim, and within five minutes Northern Colorado had cut it to a four-point game. Down seven with four minutes left, Unruh scored a couple jumpers, and then a three by Barden tied the game with 1:51 left. Neither team scored again in regulation.
Unruh finished with 12 points, while sophomore Cody McDavis scored 10 points in logging a surprising 30 minutes. Senior center Conner Osborne was whistled out of the game with two fouls two minutes into the contest, and McDavis solidly filled in from there, knocking down several mid-range jumpers. Barden, Unruh, and McDavis all finished with seven rebounds.
Northern Colorado finishes its season with a record of 18-13.
Berry's seven overtime points put him atop Weber's scoring list with 15, while he also dished five assists. Jordan Richardson scored 13, while senior center Kyle Tresnak logged all his 11 points in the first half. Gittens key buckets gave him 10 points on the night.
Weber State is now 18-11 on the season and advances to play North Dakota on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT. After all the parity in the Big Sky, seeds one and two will face off for the Big Sky's lone NCAA Tournament bid. Weber State is 5-0 against North Dakota since UND joined the conference.