Connor Hill fell short in his five previous career tries at the Montana Grizzlies.
Maybe the most agonizing setback occurred at Memorial Gym last season, when Montana pulled out a 72-71 victory over Hill’s Idaho Vandals.
So Hill was more than happy to get another shot at the Grizzlies in Moscow, Idaho, on Thursday night.
Hill’s first 28 minutes on the floor, all in regulation, didn’t do much to help Idaho toward that goal. He had 15 points – but on 17 field-goal attempts – and was 1 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Lucky for him, and Idaho, Thursday’s game went beyond regulation. Lucky, also, because the Vandals chopped away at a Montana seven-point lead with 3 minutes left in the second half.
Hill didn’t hesitate to shoot despite his 3-point troubles in regulation. Hill nailed both of his 3-point attempts and scored eight points after regulation to lead Idaho to a 92-87 win over the Grizzlies in double overtime.
The Big Sky’s top eight teams make the conference tournament. Seventh-place Idaho is two games up on ninth-place Southern Utah.
Hill collected an offensive rebound, bouncing to him off a Mike Scott 3-point miss, and immediately set his feet for a straight away 3-pointer that swung the game in Idaho’s favor and delighted a crowd of 1,500 in the process.
“I knew I was pulling that as soon as the ball came out to me,” Hill said. “I had space, I caught it perfectly and my feet were down.”
Idaho coach Don Verlin would expect nothing less from one of his seniors playing in his second-to-last home game, despite his rough shooting start.
“If he’s open he shoots it, or he’s getting taken out,” Verlin said.
Idaho (12-14, 7-8 Big Sky) was paced by its sophomores and freshmen in regulation as its three seniors had trouble adjusting to Montana’s physical defense and Martin Breunig’s dominance defending the paint for the Grizzlies.
Scott went coast-to-coast at the end of regulation to earn two free throws to send the game to overtime. From there, he scored eight more points, including the last three points in the first overtime to send it to a second.
“My first 20 was horrible,” Scott said. “It just motivated (me) to come out and finish out the game. The team is going to need me. They go how I go.”
Montana’s Jordan Gregory led all scorers with 36 points and hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first overtime in Hill’s face.
The teams went back and forth in overtime, with 23 of Gregory’s 36 points coming during the extra frames.
Gregory had the last word with Hill when Wiggs hit two free throws to ice the win for Idaho at the end of the second overtime.
“He said, ‘Might see you over in Europe,’ ” Hill said. “He said, ‘Good game.’ He’s a classy guy. We have mutual respect for each other.”
Northern Arizona 85, North Dakota 75: Kris Yanku pumped in 24 points by shooting 16 for 16 from the line and the Lumberjacks stayed in the hunt for the Big Sky title by shooting past North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Yanku converted two second-half three-point plays and was 8 for 8 from the line in the second half. Jordyn Martin scored 17 points and Ako Kaluna added 16 for Northern Arizona.
Quinton Hooker scored 20 points to lead North Dakota. Lenny Antwi added 15 points and Jaron Nash added 12. North Dakota shot 46.6 percent from the field (27 for 58), including 7 of 21 on 3-pointers, but was just 14 of 21 from the free-throw line (66.7 percent).
Northern Colorado 77, Southern Utah 67: Dominique Lee scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Tevin Svihovec added 14 points to go with nine rebounds and the Bears defeated the Thunderbirds at Greeley, Colorado.
Jordan Wilson had four assists and three steals for the Bears, who dominated from the start and led by as many as 19.
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