OGDEN, Utah – Anthony Johnson scored 34 of his career-high 42 points in the second half, leading Montana back from a 22-point deficit and into the NCAA basketball tournament with a 66-65 win over Weber State on Wednesday night in the Big Sky tourney championship.
Derek Selvig added 12 points and Brian Qvale pulled down 14 rebounds for the Grizzlies (22-9), who will return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since last winning the Big Sky in 2006.
After committing 14 turnovers in the first half, Montana had just six in the second, slowly chipping away until Johnson hit what turned out to be the winning shot, a short jumper with 10 seconds left.
Damian Lillard scored 16 to lead top-seeded Weber State (20-10), which led 40-20 at halftime.
Johnson scored Montana’s last 21 points, taking over after Selvig got Montana within 51-45 on a reverse layup with about 10:30 left to play.
Johnson finished 13 for 22 and made all 14 of his foul shots, breaking his previous career high by 10 points despite playing the last several minutes with four fouls.
Franklin Session had 10 points for Weber State, but missed 7 of 12 foul shots. He missed twice from the line with 28 seconds left and Weber State up 65-64, allowing Johnson to make the winner.
After Johnson’s shot, Montana’s Will Cherry tied up Lillard and forced a jump ball with 2.6 seconds left, giving possession back to the Grizzlies. Selvig missed his first free throw with 2.1 seconds, then clanged the second off the rim. Weber State didn’t have enough time for another shot.
Johnson broke the tournament record of 39 points, set by Mike O’Quinn of Cal State Northridge against Eastern Washington in 1998.