The run of late-game luck for Montana finally ran out.
Weber State ended regulation on an 8-1 run and held off the Grizzlies in overtime to hand the Montana men's basketball team an 87-85 loss on Saturday night in Utah.
Kendal Manuel missed a 3-point shot that would have tied the game with under four seconds left in the overtime period and Weber State went 6 of 6 from the free throw line over the final 30 seconds to seal the game.
“Discipline cost us that game down the stretch. Couple things, couple fouls didn’t need to be made and lack of execution offensively,” Montana head coach Travis DeCuire told KGVO radio following the game. “The last thing was desperation. The way they celebrated at the end of the game, you could tell they were desperate for a win and wanted it bad and I’m not sure how bad we wanted it.”
It was the second overtime loss of the year for Montana. DeCuire dropped to 6-9 in overtime games as head coach of the Grizzlies. Coming into the game, Montana had won four Big Sky games by four points or less.
Another close win was not in the cards in Ogden, despite Sayeed Pridgett scoring a career-high 33 points on 14-of-29 shooting, adding on eight rebounds and a pair of assists while playing all 45 minutes. Pridgett, however, turned the ball over with 27 seconds left in the overtime period and Montana trailing by just a point.
The turnover was a miscommunication — Pridgett thought Manuel was going to cut back to him, but cut toward the basket instead. Weber State forward Michal Kozak, a 53.1% free throw shooter coming into the game, was then fouled by Mack Anderson and hit a pair of free throws to give the Wildcats a three-point lead.
“I would have preferred it had not come down to that situation and you’re going to have that when you’re on the road, especially on the road at Weber, you know they’re going to fight back, all the games we’ve had here we’ve jumped up and they’ve got themselves back in the game with tough shots,” DeCuire said. “They’ve got good players who make plays."
Kozak, who finished with 18 points, played a key role in the late regulation run, hitting a 3-point shot with 1:47 left to kick-start the burst. Kham Davis followed Kozak’s 3-pointer with one of his own, Pridgett split a pair of free throws and Jerrick Harding pushed the game into overtime with a layup.
Harding finished with 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting and hit five 3-pointers.
Harding, who surpassed 2,000 career points in the game, was critical in a 9-0 burst for Weber State out of the locker room. Davis got the run going with a dunk and Harding gave the Wildcats a 45-43 lead with a wild 3-point shot.
Montana fought back with a run of its own to take a 62-53 lead, but Weber State never went away, chipping at lead over the last eight minutes of regulation and eventually tying it up.
“We made mistakes. We fouled 3-point shooters, we took some shots we didn’t need to take early in possessions, burped up some threes and whatnot, so we had chances to go up double figures and really have some momentum going in the locker room and kept them in the game a little bit … We were fine once we settled down, but we started the second half off the same way we did the other day.”
Montana is now 11-8 on the season with a 7-2 mark in Big Sky play. Weber State is 7-13 and 3-6 in conference.
The Grizzlies will be on the road at Portland State on Thursday, followed by a rivalry matchup at home against Montana State on Saturday evening.
“We just need to play the best basketball we can play,” DeCuire said. “We’ll get back, try to get fresh for Thursday’s game, we’re going to need a ton of energy and unfortunately the Cats get to rest all week and we don’t, but it is what is and we need to make the most of our opportunities.”
NOTES: Timmy Falls fouled out with 4:48 left in regulation … DJ Carter-Hollinger fouled out in overtime with one point, four rebounds and two blocks … It was the fifth-straight game Carter-Hollinger has recorded a block … Falls tied a career-high with 16 points, 14 of which came in the first half ... Josh Vazquez scored 12 points in a 4 of 4 shooting performance from behind the 3-point line ... The four makes were his first in Big Sky play.