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Big Sky Tournament: Portland State controls paint late, ousts Montana

The Vikings lived inside in the second half, advancing to the Big Sky Tournament semifinals with a 70-63 win.

Mackenzie Kasper - Big Sky Conference

OGDEN -- Kyle Richardson and DaShaun Wiggins took control for Portland State in the second half as the Vikings officially ended Montana's choke-hold on the Big Sky Conference with a 70-63 victory on Thursday night.

Portland State lived in the paint to slowly take control, with Wiggins driving to the basket almost at will. Wiggins scored 15 points in the second half, including 6-of-7 from the free-throw line, as Montana had little answer for the Vikings' intent to score inside.

"We talked [at halftime] about not being three-point happy," PSU head coach Tyler Geving said. "We talked about driving and getting it inside."

Equally important to PSU's inside dominance was Kyle Richardson. The big man, who finished with 19 points, was 4-of-5 from the field in the second half and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. The Vikings shot 18-of-21 from the charity stripe in the second half.

"Kyle really improved and played well from the first time we played Montana. He was big," Geving said.

On the other side, Montana's conference dominance -- 34-2 in conference in the two seasons previous to this -- came to a startling halt, getting pushed out of the conference tournament in the first round.

"They got us out of our game and we just didn't adjust," said Montana guard Jordan Gregory, who finished with 18 points and the Grizzlies' only three-pointer of the game.

"We just came up empty a lot tonight," Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle said. "We got out of character with our focus and discipline. We forgot our game plan -- when guys like to drive left, which guys we can give space to help out in other places."

Montana senior Kareem Jamar entered the postgame press conference teary-eyed, visibly upset as he kept a bite on his shooting shirt for quite some time. The senior's prolific career came to an end with a performance of 20 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. He finishes fourth in Montana school history in scoring and 13th in the Big Sky.

Montana goes home with a final record of 17-13.

Portland State also moved to 17-13, and advances to play two-seed North Dakota at 4:30 pm MT on Friday.