Friday, February 10, 2012

Big Sky Conference Wrap Up: Wildcats and Montana setting up season finale

Big Sky Conference
Wildcats and Montana setting up season finale showdown in Missoula, MT

A season ending showdown is brewing as Montana and Weber State keep pace with each other atop the Big Sky Standings, could the final regular season game in Missoula determine the conference regular season champion?

*updated to reflect accurate information regarding Weber State which will host EWU on Saturday, previously the post indicated the Wildcats were travelling to Cheney.

The Big Sky Conference standings were shaken up quite a bit last night, at least in the middle. Weber State (11-1, 19-4) and Montana (11-1, 18-6) secured the top two spots in the conference tourney. Northern Arizona (1-12, 5-20) is the only team that is officially eliminated from the tournament.

Weber State Wildcats (11-1, 19-4) @ Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (1-12, 5-20)
The Wildcats controlled the game from the outset, only allowing the Lumberjacks to crawl with single digits briefly after the half and from their pulled away and cruised to a 67 to 49 victory. AS stated above, the Wildcats are now assured of either the first or second seed in the Conference Tournament, while the Lumberjacks will not advance into the post season. the Wildcats head home to take on the Eagles on Saturday, the Lumberjacks host Idaho State.

Montana Grizzlies (11-1, 18-6) @ Northern Colorado Bears (4-8, 7-16)
The Grizzlies played down a bit onto the Bears level and at one point trailed by 8 points in the second half. Led by Junior Guard Will Cherry (30pts, 8 steals), the Grizzlies rallied to win 75-68 in Greeley. The rally allowed Montana to maintain a share of the conference’s top seed and assured that they will end up with either the number 1 or number two seed going into the conference tournament. The Bears extended their losing streak to 3 games and 6 of the last 7 and watched the dream of post season play slip a little further away. The Grizzlies will head to Sacramento State for a Saturday game while the Bears take a break before travelling to EWU for a Thursday night match up.

Montana State Bobcats (6-6, 11-12) @ Sacramento State Hornets (4-8, 9-14)
The Hornets continued their late season charge in impressive fashion shooting over 60% from the field including 11 of 19 from 3pt range to win 86-76 over the visiting Bobcats. The win pushed the Hornets streak to 4 games and they are clearly not a team that anyone wants to play right now. The Bobcats fell back into a 3 way tie for third place with their 4th straight loss. The Hornets will continue their road trip on Saturday at Montana, while the Bobcats take the weekend off to lick their wounds before hosting Weber State on Thursday.

Portland State Vikings (6-6, 12-12) @ Idaho State Bengals (6-6, 8-16)
The Vikings climbed back into a three way tie for the third seed heading into the conference tourney, by controlling the game from start to finish. The Bengals were down by nine at the half and managed to get the game no closer than seven through the second half. The Vikings probably would have won by a wider margin had they shot better than 1 of 14 from beyond the arc, although 20 of 25 from the free throw line clearly made up enough of the difference. The Bengals will head to Northern Arizona on Saturday, while the Vikings host Sacramento State on Thursday.