PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- As Montana's Kamarr Davis filed out of the
Memorial Coliseum with his teammates, he proudly wore around his
neck the net the Grizzlies had cut down.
Davis scored 19 points and Montana held off Weber State's late
rally for a 63-61 victory in the Big Sky Conference title game
Wednesday night, earning the Grizzlies an automatic bid to the NCAA
"It was surreal to cut down the nets. It was great to watch our
guys do that. Each one of them has a story about this year. They've
all come a long way," Montana's first-year coach Larry Krystkowiak
But it wasn't without a fight.
Virgil Matthews' dunk with 4:17 left capped an 11-0 run and made
it 54-44 for Montana, which has won six straight.
Weber State chipped away at the lead, narrowing it to 60-58 on
Terrell Stovall's 3-pointer with 1:03 left. Montana's Kevin
Criswell missed a layup before Stovall was called for an offensive
foul on the other end and the Grizzlies got the ball.
Matt Martin made both his free throws after getting fouled with
14.4 seconds left to make it 62-58, but Weber State's Coric Riggs
hit a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left to make it 62-61. Davis was
fouled with 2.8 seconds and added drama by missing his first free
throw before hitting his second for the final margin.
"We just needed to keep our heads," Davis said. "Play hard,
play smart and play together like coach has been preaching all
year," he said.
Krystkowiak screamed and raised his hands in victory as his team
mobbed each other at center court.
Criswell and Martin each added 11 points for the Grizzlies
(18-12), who defeated Montana State 79-67 in the semifinals on
Lance Allred had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Weber State
(14-16), which upset top-seeded Portland State 71-61 to advance to
"We had things going in the first half and couldn't finish it
off," Weber State coach Joe Cravens said. "It's disappointing
because we didn't play the way we have been."
The teams had met three times before in the Big Sky Title game --
1978, 1980 and 1995 -- with the Wildcats winning each time. It was
Montana's first appearance in the title game since 2002, when the
Grizzlies beat Eastern Washington 70-66 to earn their last NCAA
Weber State beat Eastern Washington 60-57 in the tournament
final the next year to earn an NCAA appearance.
Allred had just six points in the semifinal game. But the
6-foot-11 senior center had 12 points and 10 rebounds by the half
as Weber State built a 28-21 lead.
Davis put pressure on Allred in the second half -- and in the
process put Montana in control.
"I just wanted to stay in front of him and deny him the ball,"
said Davis, a 6-foot-7 senior. "I was playing from behind him in
the first half, and we switched it up in the second half."
Montana narrowed it to 32-28 on Matt Dlouhy's alley-oop dunk.
Davis added a jumper and Martin hit a 3-pointer to briefly give the
Grizzlies a 33-32 lead.
Both teams traded the lead four times until Kevin Criswell's
jumper gave the Grizzlies a 47-44 lead with 6:36 to go. Davis added
a pair of free throws and Martin hit another 3-pointer before
Matthews' decisive dunk.
"It was two different halves. We were tight coming out in the
first half and didn't play smart, hard or together," Krystkowiak
said. "It was entirely different in the second half. I think it
was the pressure of the situation. We recovered and it was great to
be a part of."
The Wildcats and Grizzlies split their two regular season games.