Northern Arizona hoops defeats Montana, reaches Big Sky Tournament title game

Mar 8, 2023, 12:00 AM
Members of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks celebrate with Oakland Fort #4 of the Northern Arizona ...
Members of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks celebrate with Oakland Fort #4 of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks after Fort sunk a 3-pointer to beat the Eastern Washington Eagles 81-80 in the second round of the Big Sky Basketball Tournament at Idaho Central Arena on March 05, 2023 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Tommy Martino/University of Montana/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tommy Martino/University of Montana/Getty Images)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Jalen Cole had 28 points in Northern Arizona’s 83-71 win over Montana on Tuesday night in a Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinal.

The Lumberjacks, a No. 9 seed entering the tournament, will face Montana State on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. for a chance to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000.

Cone was 8-of-12 shooting, including 6 for 10 from distance, and went 6 for 6 from the line for the Lumberjacks (12-22). Carson Towt scored 14 points and added nine rebounds. Xavier Fuller was 4-of-11 shooting and went 6 for 7 from the line to finish with 14 points while adding eight rebounds.

The Grizzlies (17-14) were led in scoring by Dischon Thomas, who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. Josh Bannan added 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for Montana. Brandon Whitney also had 10 points and five assists.

Northern Arizona turned a five-point second-half advantage into a 12-point lead with a 7-0 run to make it 58-46 with 9:38 remaining in the half. Cone scored 13 second-half points in the game.

NAU finished the regular season 9-22 overall and is one game away from an NCAA Tournament bid.

The Lumberjacks stunned No. 1 seed with a buzzer-beater for the win on Sunday.

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Northern Arizona hoops defeats Montana, reaches Big Sky Tournament title game