There were four games last night, but the most interesting both on the court and off the court (with its ramifications) was Idaho's double OT win over Montana.
Travis DeCuire had to be having flashbacks to Sacramento, because this one played out in a similar fashion. In that game, Montana had a 97.0% win probability with 3:03 to play. Against Idaho, they had a 97.2% win probability with 3:24 left, and found a way to lose once again.
The Grizzlies were in control much of the way, but the Vandals went on a 10-1 run to close out regulation, sending the game to OT when Mike Scott hit two free throws with 1.7 seconds left. In the first OT, it was Montana who needed the heroics, as a late Jordan Gregory three tied the game up to give us more free basketball. But in the second OT, Idaho's offense could not be stopped, as they scored 22 points in that five minute session to get the win.
There are no shortage of guys that played well for Idaho, but a guy that really stuck out to me was freshman Arkadiy Mkrtychyan. He finished with 15 points (including 9/10 FT), and had 6 rebounds. It's not the best stat line on the team, but he impresses with his nose for the ball, and ability to make big plays at big moments. In regulation, Bira Seck got fouled down 3, and shot the 1-and-1. He missed the front end, but Ark got the offensive board, got fouled, and then hit both free throws. That is a huge play for anyone, let alone a freshman.
Jordan Gregory led the way for the Grizzlies with 36 points, but he did miss a big free throw down the stretch. With Montana up 3 and about 15 seconds left in the second half, he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, keeping the Vandals alive. Still, overall, he was sensational, carrying the offense. Martin Breunig fouled out, which is somewhat of a theme for him... he is outstanding, but often finds himself in foul trouble.
With the win, Idaho should be all but into the tournament, and of course they have shown with their play against top teams this year that they will be very dangerous. The win officially knocks Montana State out of the tournament, with Idaho State and North Dakota on life support. It also dampens Southern Utah's hopes a bit, after their loss to Northern Colorado.
For Montana, they almost certainly won't be hosting the Big Sky tournament. How you feel about them beyond that is probably open to interpretation. On the one hand, you can read into it that they can't hold onto leads, and struggle at the end of close games. Personally, I find them to be just as dangerous today as they seemed to be yesterday. They struggled in close games... but they also went on the road and had two good teams (Sac State and Idaho) on the ropes. They aren't likely to make those same mistakes again.
It's going to be a great Big Sky tournament.
Follow me on Twitter @bigskybball