BOISE, Idaho — Jacob Groves had 15 points, Tanner Groves added 14 points and 14 rebounds, and the Eastern Washington men earned their third NCAA tournament bid in program history and first since 2015 with a 65-55 win over Montana State on Saturday night in the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game.
The No. 2 seed Eagles (16-7) opened the game with a 20-3 lead, making eight of their first 12 shots while the No. 5 seed Bobcats (13-10) made one of their first nine shots.
Eastern Washington had its largest lead at 29-9 and led 35-17 before Montana State closed the deficit to 14 by halftime.
Montana State missed its first 12 three-point attempts. Nick Gazelas broke the ice with a three that cut the deficit to 51-41 with 9:19 remaining and, at 60-51 with 4:41 left, Montana State got within single digits for the first time since the first five minutes of the game.
But the Eagles immediately pushed the lead back into double digits and effectively stretched out their possessions while getting the stops they needed to hold on.
Eagles coach Shantay Legans earned his first trip to the NCAA tournament in his fourth season. Eastern Washington lost to Montana in the Big Sky championship game in 2018 and 2019.
• It was also a good day for Eastern on the football field as the Eagles (2-1) scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes to rally past Idaho State 46-42 in Pocatello, Idaho.
Preseason All-American quarterback Eric Barriere was 34 of 50 for a career-high 455 yards and five touchdowns. His top receiver was Andrew Boston, who caught 10 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 25 seconds remaining.
Tyler Vander Waal threw for a career-high 409 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more for the Bengals (1-2).
• No. 8 Washington (19-2) swept its two games at its Husky Classic, beating Seattle U 4-1 and Portland State 8-0 in five innings. Morganne Flores was 4 for 6 with three RBI in the two games. Gabbie Plain earned her second win vs. Seattle U (11-13) in as many days, giving up a run on four hits and a walk. She struck out 14.
• Seattle U scored six runs in the top of the seventh to beat Portland State 10-4 in the final game of the day at the Husky Classic.
Track and field
• Katie Rainsberger took eighth (4:39.67) at the women’s mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Fayetteville, Arkansas. It earned her a 12th All-America honor.
• Dalton Chandler, who gave Washington a win Friday when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 11th inning, was 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBI as the Huskies (8-6) again beat Seattle U 6-4. Justin Mazzone was 2 for 5 with a homer and three RBI for the Redhawks (5-8).
• Jaedyn Prewitt threw four first-half touchdowns as Whitworth (3-0) beat Pacific Lutheran (0-3) in Spokane 56-23. Prewitt was 23 of 38 for 458 yards.
• Leahi Manthei scored in the 84th minute to help Seattle U (5-3-1, 4-1-1 WAC) avoid a shutout against visiting Grand Canyon (2-6, 2-2), which won 2-1.