Big West/Big Sky
Tournament MVP Angella Bieber had 24 points and seven rebounds Saturday to lead Montana to a 58-48 victory over Northern Arizona for the Big Sky Conference championship.
It is the fifth consecutive Big Sky title and NCAA appearance for the Grizzlies (24-5), who earned the league’s automatic bid into the 64-team tourney.
Bieber, from University High School, scored seven consecutive points early in the second half to give Montana a 28-24 lead with 16:04 to play.
Bieber had four points in a 7-0 Montana run that gave the Griz their largest lead, 52-41, with 3:39 to play. Bieber’s wide-open basket came on an assist by Linda Cummings as Montana broke NAU’s press.
NAU (22-6) could get no closer than seven the rest of the way.
Big West women’s tournament
Erin Buescher scored 28 points and UC Santa Barbara claimed its second consecutive Big West tournament championship and an automatic NCAA berth by defeating Boise State 86-69 in Reno, Nev.
Players with ties to the Inland Northwest took the spots on the all-tournament team. Buescher was named MVP and was joined on the team by UCSB’s Stacy Clinesmith, from Mead High School, Idaho’s Alli Nieman, from Sandpoint High, Nevada’s Jelena Zrnic, who played at North Idaho College, UCSB’s Nicole Greathouse and Boise State’s Kellie Lewis.
Greathouse added 14 points, Tandee Taylor had 11 and Kristi Rohr 10 for Santa Barbara (26-5), which heads to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time.
The Gauchos have never gotten past the second round, but they’re going in with plenty of momentum.
Since losing to Nevada on Jan. 15, Santa Barbara has won a school-record 15 consecutive games, topping last year’s season-ending 14-game run.
Big Sky men’s tournament
Northern Arizona qualified for its first NCAA berth with a 77-50 victory over Montana State in the title game at Flagstaff, Ariz.
Andrew Mavis had 11 of his 17 points in the first half as the Lumberjacks (21-7) opened a 45-21 lead and breezed to their eighth consecutive win. Their only other finals appearance was in 1979, when Weber State beat them 92-70.
Dan McClintock had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Ross Land had 11 points for Northern.
Mike Henry and Scott Harry had eight points each for Montana State, which dropped to 2-2 in Big Sky championship games. The Bobcats (19-11) won the tournament in 1986 and 1996.
Big West men’s tournament
Marcus Saxon scored 31 points and Utah State advanced to the Big West Conference tournament championship, beating Cal State Fullerton 65-56 in a semifinal.
Kevin Rice and Donnie Johnson added 11 points each for Utah State (24-7), which equaled a school record for wins and beat Cal State Fullerton for the 10th straight time.
The Aggies will play today for the championship against Pacific, which defeated Nevada 67-62 in the other semifinal.
Adam Jacobsen hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining and Rayne Mahaffey made five free throws down the stretch for Pacific.
Aaron Woliczko scored 18 points to lead Pacific, winners of 16 straight. Michael Olowokandi had 17 before fouling out with 1:30 remaining.