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2015 Big Sky Tournament Semis: Montana wins on last-second shot, Eastern Washington rolls

The Big Sky ends up being all chalk after Montana survives yet another wild finish.

Eastern Washington's Parker Kelly (10) drives past Sacramento State's Dreon Barlett in a Big Sky semifinal Friday.
Eastern Washington's Parker Kelly (10) drives past Sacramento State's Dreon Barlett in a Big Sky semifinal Friday.
Mackenzie Jasper-Big Sky Conference

It almost happened to Montana.

The Grizzlies found themselves up two and shooting free throws with less than 20 seconds remaining, just how Weber State had them cornered Thursday in the first round. And just like Weber State did, Martin Breunig missed both of his free throws.

And just like Weber State did the night before to Montana, the Griz fouled on the next play. Northern Arizona's Kris Yanku, who finished with 26 points, calmly drained his freebies and the game was tied at 59.

But Jordan Gregory was on the job.

The senior put Montana on his back, drove past Quinton Upshur with almost too much ease, and put in a layup with 0.4 seconds left to send Montana to the Big Sky title game, 61-59.

There was major drama after the shot, however, as an ineligible Montana transfer in street clothes darted onto the floor on Gregory's shot with time still left. He dove off the floor, then officials had to stop play while NAU was inbounding the ball.

Yanku's eventual desperation heave missed (and Montana oddly gave him plenty of space to shoot it), then NAU coach Jack Murphy got into it with Montana's head man Travis DeCuire. Reporters said the Big Sky officially stated Murphy was being investigated for the incident.

Video: Watch the crazy finish

Gregory led Montana with 21 points, while fellow guard Mario Dunn added nine points and led the team with 11 rebounds. Upshur scored 17 for NAU.

Reserve guard Riley Bradshaw played a big role for Montana yet again Friday. Bradshaw scored 10 points in the first half, and in the game's final minute drew an offensive foul on Yanku after committing a turnover that kept Montana ahead two.

Thursday, Bradshaw hardly played but made Montana's final basket of overtime to give the Griz a three-point lead against Weber State.

Montana enters Saturday's championship game looking for its third regular season/conference tournament title combo in four seasons. The game tips at 7:00 pm MT on ESPNU.

Related: Big Sky bracket, schedule

Eastern Washington blazes past Sacramento State

The first winning season in Sacramento State's Division-I history came to an end Friday, ambushed by a barrage of three-pointers from a hot Eastern Washington squad. Eastern raced to 81 points in the first 30 minutes, then coasted to a 91-83 win to reach the Big Sky title game.

The Eagles shot a ridiculously hot 32-of-55 from the field and an even more ridiculous 15-of-25 from behind the arc, nine of them coming in the first half. Felix Von Hofe led the Eagles, shooting 7-of-8 from deep en route to 23 points and pacing EWU to a 49-34 halftime lead.

Tyler Harvey shot only twice and scored precisely zero of those 49 first half points. He and backcourt mate Drew Brandon combined for 18 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds from the guard line to facilitate the Eastern onslaught.

Sacramento State got 24 points from Big Sky MVP Mikh McKinney but had no shot of keeping up with the Eagles--who have scored 91 points in each of their tournament games thus far--especially with fellow senior guard Dylan Garrity shooting an ice-cold 4-of-14.

It only got worse in the second half for Sac State as Von Hofe and Venky Jois tag-teamed the Hornets into submission. Jois scored six, including a dunk, and Von Hofe dropped home a pair of three-pointers to extend EWU's lead to 71-45 just five minutes into the second frame.

Consecutive threes from Parker Kelly gave Eastern an 81-57 with 9:30 left in the game, and the Eagles cruised to the victory from there. Jois scored 19, while Bogdan Bliznyuk scored 16 to combine with Von Hofe for a killer bench performance.

Sacramento State's best season in its D-I history ends with a 20-11 record and a loss in the tournament semis. Eastern improves to 25-8 and is one game away from its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004.