Jan 20, 2013 9:38 AM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
MISSOULA - An emotional, draining victory has moved University of Montana Grizzly head basketball coach Wayne Tinkle into the record books, and it was one that the seventh-year mentor will probably never forget.
Tinkle's Grizzly team needed an extra five minutes and a dramatic last-second 3-pointer in regulation to force the extra period, as Montana eked out a 76-71 victory over the Montana State Bobcats Saturday evening in front of a boisterous Dahlberg Arena crowd of 6,022.
The win gave TInkle his 74th career league victory - the most in school history, as he passed former mentor Mike Montgomery, who had 73 conference wins from 1979-86.
Montana remained undefeated in league play at 8-0, and the Griz are now 12-4 overall. It was the 19th consecutive Big Sky win by Montana.
There were seven lead changes and six ties in the 286th meeting on the hardwood between these two long-time rivals.
The sixth deadlock of the emotional contest was by far the most memorable. That was a 3-point shot made by forward Mike Weisner with 3.4 seconds left to play, which knotted the game up at 66-66 to force the OT.
MSU (3-4/6-9) took a five-point (58-53) lead with 4:58 left to play on a jumper by junior center Paul Egwuonwu and the Bobcats stayed ahead for the next four-plus minutes. But, when Griz junior guard-forward Kareem Jamar made two free throws he tied the game up at 63-63 with 1:06 left to play in regulation.
The Bobcats regained the lead with 52 seconds remaining on a driving lay-up by freshman guard Marcus Colbert, Colbert gave MSU a three-point edge at 66-63 (with 27 seconds left) when he made one of two free throw attempts.
The Grizzlies then missed their first two 3-point attempts in the closing seconds, but the try was a charm, as Weisner's trey was true, and Montana knotted the game at 66-all. Colbert's long-range 3-point attempt at the buzzer was way off the mark, forcing the overtime.
Weisner, a 6-7 junior from Walla Walla, Wash., was a key factor in the OT too, as he scored the first bucket in the extra stanza on a lay-up, thanks to a nice assist by Jamar, and that gave the Griz a 68-66 lead with 2:30 left in OT.
The Bobcats struggled to score in the extra five minutes, and the Grizzlies upped their lead to 72-66 on a free throw apiece by senior guard Will Cherry and junior forward Spencer Coleman, followed by a lay-up by Jamar (on a nice feed by Weisner) with 27 seconds to go in OT.
MSU's first points in overtime came with 22 seconds remaining on a lay-up by senior guard Xavier Blount, cutting UM's margin to 72-68. But the Griz, who had once again been struggling from the free throw line in the game, got four crucial charity shots, two each by sophomore guard Jordan Gregory and Cherry, and that gave the Griz an insurmountable 76-69 lead with 10 seconds to go.
The Bobcats' largest lead was nine points (25-16) in the first half, when senior guard Christian Moon made two free throws. But, the Grizzlies battled back and took a 31-29 lead with 32 seconds until intermission on a 3-pointer by Jamar. A 3-pointer at the buzzer by Colbert gave MSU a 32-31 lead at halftime.
Jamar scored a game-high 23 points and also had 10 assists and 7 rebounds, and played all 45 minutes. Cherry tallied 14 points and 7 rebounds. Gregory added 11 points and was 3-of-3 from 3-point range, while Coleman chipped in 10 points and had a career-high 4 steals.
Moon led the Cats with 14 points, and junior forward Flavien Davis added 12 points and he grabbed a game-high 8 rebounds.
Cherry now has 1,298 career points, moving him up to ninth all-time. He passes forwards Derrick Pope (1,289 points, 1980-83) and Shawn Samuelson (1,293 points, 1993-96).
The Griz were 27-of-57 (47.4%) from the field, made 9-of-23 (39.1%) 3-pointers, and were 13-of-22 (59.1%) from the line. Montana out-rebounded MSU 37-31, and UM had 12 offensive boards.
The Cats shot the ball well, going 26-of-55 (47.3%) from the floor, 8-of-19 (42.1%) from behind the arc, and 11-of-15 (73.3%) from the line.
The Griz remain home for a pair of Big Sky games next week, hosting Idaho State on Thursday, Jan. 24, and Weber State on Saturday, Jan. 26. The Wildcats are also undefeated in league play at 8-0 and are 13-3 overall.