Julius Thomas got free for a tie-breaking dunk with 3.5 seconds left and Portland State held on for a 79-77 win over Montana State on Wednesday night in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game in Ogden, Utah.
The Vikings repeated as conference champions and clinched their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth, despite allowing the Bobcats to rally from 10 points down and tie it at 77 with 11 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Branden Johnson.
Thomas scored off a pass from Andre Murray to put Portland State (23-9) ahead again, then Murray snuffed Montana State’s hopes by not allowing Bobby Howard to get off a shot at the buzzer.
Divaldo Mbunga had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats (14-17), who were the No. 6 seed in a six-team tournament.
Jeremiah Dominguez scored 22 and Thomas finished with 17 points for the Vikings.
Robert Morris 48, Mount St. Mary’s (Md.) 46: At Coraopolis, Pa., Dallas Green picked up a loose ball and made a hurried shot with 2.5 seconds remaining for his only basket of the game, and regular-season champion Robert Morris shook off its tournament jinx against Mount St. Mary’s for a victory in the Northeast Conference championship game.
Jeremy Chappell scored 15 points as Robert Morris (24-10) beat the Mountaineers (19-13) for the third time this season to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years.
Each of the previous two seasons, the Colonials swept the regular-season series from Mount St. Mary’s, only to lose to the Mountaineers on their home court.
(18) Syracuse 89, Seton Hall 74: At New York, Eric Devendorf scored all 19 of his points in a technical-filled second half and Syracuse pulled away for a victory over Seton Hall in the second round of the Big East tournament.
Jonny Flynn had 19 points and 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Orange (24-8), who will face third-seeded and third-ranked Connecticut in the quarterfinals tonight.
Jeremy Hazell had 27 points for the 11th-seeded Pirates (17-15).
(21) Marquette 74, St. John’s 45: At New York, Wesley Matthews scored 20 points and Marquette snapped a four-game losing streak by holding St. John’s to a Big East tournament-record 10 points in the first half.
Lazar Hayward added 17 points for the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (24-8), who beat St. John’s for the ninth straight time and advanced to tonight’s quarterfinals against fourth-seeded and 10th-ranked Villanova.
Paris Horne had 15 points for the Red Storm (16-17).