Lady Griz don’t play, clinch tourney berth

Montana did not play Thursday night but still clinched a spot in the 2014 Big Sky Conference women’s basketball tournament with the results of the league’s four games.

The Lady Griz, who are currently tied for third in the Big Sky standings, two games out of first, will be playing in their 26th straight tournament in two weeks, at a sight still to be determined.Montana has not missed a Big Sky tournament and has won 16 of the league’s first 25 postseason titles.

North Dakota remained atop the Big Sky Conference standings with a 73-52 victory at Portland State Thursday night. UND got a game-high 19 points from Madi Buck, outscored the Vikings 41-26 in the second half and turned the ball over a season-low eight times.

The victory extended North Dakota’s lead to 1.5 games over Southern Utah, which defeated Montana 69-49 in Cedar City, Utah, Wednesday night.

Eastern Washington moved into a tie for third with Montana with a 67-61 victory over Northern Colorado Thursday night at Cheney, Wash.

The Eagles, behind 16 points from Aubrey Ashenfelter, won for the seventh time in eight games and also clinched a spot to the tournament.

North Dakota, Southern Utah, Montana and Eastern Washington are all locked in to the tournament.

Sacramento State and Idaho State both picked up important wins Thursday in their pursuit of the final three tournament bids.

The Hornets, who had four of five starters score in double figures, used a big second half to pull away from Weber State and win 76-60 at Sacramento, Calif.

At Flagstaff, Ariz., Idaho State shot 49.0 percent and got 23 points from both Lindsey Reed and Rebecca Schrimpsher to win 72-65 to bolster its own tournament prospects and mostly end Northern Arizona’s.

North Dakota can clinch at least a share of the regular-season championship when UND plays at Eastern Washington Saturday afternoon.

In other Big Sky games Saturday, Montana State plays at Southern Utah, Northern Colorado is at Portland State, Idaho State is at Sacramento State, and Weber State is at Northern Arizona.

— Montana Sports Information

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