MISSOULA — More déjà vu for the Montana Grizzlies.
Bodie Hume's layup with one second left lifted Northern Colorado to a 64-62 win over Montana on Saturday evening at Dahlberg Arena. For the Griz, that makes three conference losses for them to start the year, all by a combined four points. UM lost its first two Big Sky Conference contests to Southern Utah by one point in both games back in early December.
Freshman Robby Beasley III led UM with 12 points off of the bench while fellow freshman Brandon Whitney and sophomore Kyle Owens each had 10 for the Griz (3-6, 0-3 Big Sky) who will turn around quickly and take on UNC again on Monday at 9 a.m.
"Right now, we've got a really young group and so you just keep plugging away," Montana coach Travis DeCuire said. "You don't want to make up excuses for why you lose and you don't want to accept being young as your reason. You want to stay aggressive, keep plugging away and they all should be angry and be a little more aggressive on their next opportunity to go out and compete."
Northern Colorado started the game quickly, leading 19-9 eight minutes in before leading 29-16 after a 3-pointer from Daylen Kountz with six minutes to go in the first half. Montana chipped away from there and went into the break trailing 32-29.
The teams traded blows from there, and Cameron Parker gave Montana a brief 43-42 lead with 12:22 to go before UNC retook it.
Later in the half, back-to-back baskets from Whitney gave Montana a 57-52 lead with 3:25 left to play. Hume, UNC's sharpshooter who dealt with foul trouble for the majority of the game, knocked down a big 3-pointer followed by a jumper from Kur Jockuch to tie the game.
Josh Bannan responded with a jumper for UM, but Tre'Shon Smoots came back with a 3-pointer to give the Bears the lead again. After Montana missed the ensuing shot, Smoots made two free throws to give UNC a 62-59 lead.
With 15 seconds to go, Beasley was fouled on a 3-point attempt. The freshman knocked down all three of his tries to tie the game, before UNC called the timeout, and ultimately got the game-winner from Hume.
Hume and Kountz each finished with 14 points for Northern Colorado (5-3, 2-1 Big Sky). The Bears shot 46.2% (24 for 52) from the field and 9 for 20 from deep. Montana shot 40.8% (20 for 49) from the field and 1 for 5 from 3-point range.
Hustle plays and shot selection were two areas where DeCuire said hurt Montana the most.
"Anytime your opponent gets a rebound on a missed free throw, someone didn't block off, someone didn't do their job on assisting with the block off," DeCuire said. "There were some balls that we could've gotten that were long rebounds and didn't do that. They had too many extra possessions. If we're going to win these types of games, we have to get the balls that are ours and the other piece is offensively we have to be a little stronger mentally in terms of having enough patience to turn down an OK shot to get a better shot and I don't think we did that when it mattered most."
The Griz went 21 for 22 from the free throw line compared to UNC's 7-for-17 mark. Montana also forced 13 turnovers to its 10, but the Bears out-rebounded the Grizzlies 33 to 31.
"The great thing is, we get to play them on Monday so its a quick turnaround," Beasley said. "Instead of waiting a while and playing them later in the year, we can make quick adjustments, and then we just go out with a vengeance. The wound is fresh so we're just going to come out Monday and we're going to play like our backs against the wall. To start out 0-3 in conference, we've got to get some wins."
Notes: Eddy Egun served as a spark off the bench for UM in the first half. Egun played nine minutes, and scored five points, grabbed three rebounds and one steal to kick-start Montana's comeback. ... Montana's three true freshman of Beasley, Whitney and Bannan scored the final 19 points for the Griz in the final 12 minutes of the game. ... The loss was Montana's fourth straight to Northern Colorado.