MOSCOW – Leaking oil and ejecting broken parts, Idaho and Montana State limped, gasped, shuddered and slammed into each other in an overtime gem on Saturday, with the Vandals winning in a whisker, 83-81, in Big Sky play at Cowan Spectrum.
There were 18 lead changes in the second half and overtime. Two Bobcats and a Vandal fouled out.
And before he put back Pat Ingram’s miss with 1.5 seconds left for the winning score, Brayon Blake spent several long moments flat on his back late in the second half when he got in a tangle with MSU’s Benson Osayande under the basket and picked up his third foul.
“He said he was fine,” Vandal Coach Don Verlin reported of that mishap. “I didn’t have to ask. He told me he was ready.”
On the winning tip-in, Blake said he was mindful of letting the ball clear the rim to avoid basket interference. Then, “I knew it was mine.
“I was in the right position. I got lucky to get a hand on the ball, and it went in. It was my first buzzer-beater, and it was a game winner.”
Victor Sanders led Idaho (6-8, 1-2) with 27 points. None were more important than the three free throws he knocked down with just over two seconds remaining in regulation time.
With Idaho trailing 70-67, Chad Sherwood left a 3-point attempt on the front of the rim. Nate Sherwood tipped the rebound to Sanders at the top of the key. Sanders shot and missed, but the Bobcats’ Osayande fouled him.
In a series that featured all the drama of the fifth act of a Shakespearian tragedy, Sanders hit the first free throw. He waited out an MSU 30-second time out. Then he drained the other two to tie the score as the crowd roared progressively louder with each made shot.
“Oh man, knock ’em down,” Sanders said of the effort. “Of course there was a lot of pressure. But we work on that in practice. I feel my team can count on me when the game is in the line.”
Sherwood finished with 17 points and Blake ended with 10.
“That was a heck of a basketball game,” Verlin said afterward. “We had a number of chances to hang out heads and not finish the job.”
While the execution left something to be desired, Verlin said, “we competed and competed hard for 45 minutes.
Neither team went deep into the shot clock throughout the game. Verlin approved the furious, frenetic pace.
“We’ve got to move the ball up and down the court. We need to start playing at that pace or faster.”
The slam-bang, frenetic battle was fun, said Blake.
“It was great to experience something like that, going up and down the court. Montana State is a great team.
“It was just great seeing the guys on our squad go to war. That was a perfect example.”
Montana State’s Tyler Hall led all scorers with 32 points. Hall was 9 of 20 from the field and 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. Harald Frey and Quinton Everett added 15 points apiece.
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