RENO, Nev. – Justin Strings scored 25 points and made four 3-pointers to help No. 10 seed Sacramento State beat seventh-seeded Montana State 79-75 on Tuesday night in the first round of the Big Sky tournament.
Strings hit a key 3-pointer with 1:54 left to give the Hornets a 72-66 lead. He also made two free throws at the 29-second mark for an eight-point lead. Nick Hornsby added two at the stripe with 3.8 seconds remaining for a two-possession lead.
Sacramento State (14-16) will face No. 2 seed Montana (19-10) in a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday.
Cody Demps added 15 points with nine rebounds and five assists for Sacramento State. Dreon Barlett scored 13 for the Hornets, who have won three straight.
Sacramento State lost twice to Montana State in the regular season but the Hornets were playing without an injured Demps.
Tyler Hall led Montana State (14-17) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Marcus Colbert and Sarp Gobeloglu scored 16 apiece. The Bobcats struggled from 3-point range going 6 of 28 (21 percent).
Portland State 74, Northern Colorado 67: Cameron Forte had 26 points and 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double this season, De’Sean Parsons scored a career-high 21 points and the eighth-seeded Vikings beat the ninth-seeded Bears in a first-round matchup.
The Vikings (13-17) play top-seeded Weber State in the quarterfinals Thursday.
An eight-point run got the Bears (10-21) within three before seven free throws in the final minute sealed the win for the Vikings.
Forte scored nine points in an 11-2 run to take lead a 19-11 and led 36-30 at halftime. A 16-6 run gave the Vikings a 16-point lead with 15:40 left.
Zach Gengler added 12 points for Portland State, which was only 3 of 15 from the arc but made 23 of 31 free throws, including 11 of 14 by Parsons.
Jordan Wilson scored 20 points, Anthony Johnson 17 and Jordan Davis 13 for the Bears, who only got to the free-throw line 13 times, making nine.
Portland State has won four straight and five of its last six.
North Dakota 85, Southern Utah 80: Quinton Hooker scored 26 of his 30 points in the second half to help the fifth-seeded Fighting Hawks hold off the 12th-seeded Thunderbirds in a first-round matchup.
The Fighting Hawks (16-14) play fourth-seeded Idaho State in a quarterfinal on Thursday.
The Thunderbirds, who came in with one win in their final 13 games, got within a point three times in the final minute but North Dakota made all eight free throws, including four by Hooker, to prevail.
A bucket by Drick Bernstine gave North Dakota a 55-54 lead with 12:18 remaining and Hooker scored the Fighting Hawks’ next 12 points for a seven-point advantage.
Hooker was 8 of 13 from the floor and made 12 of 13 free throws. Bernstine added 15 points.
North Dakota made 25 of 34 free throws to 17 of 22 for Southern Utah.
John Marshall led Southern Utah (5-24) with 19 points with Casey Oliverson and Travon Langston adding 15 each.
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