It came down to the wire once again for the Montana men's basketball team, but in the end it was another heart-breaker as the Grizzlies fell to the Sacramento State Hornets 89-83 in double overtime in Sacramento, California, on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman Brandon Whitney played almost the entire game, logging 49 of the possible 50 minutes and scored a career-high 28 points on 13-for-23 shooting while grabbing five boards. Cam Parker also had his Griz career-high of 20 points off of the bench, including some big buckets late, and added five assists and five rebounds. Kyle Owens added 14 points and seven rebounds. Montana (7-8, 3-5 Big Sky) shot 44.4% from the field and went 6 for 16 from deep.
Ethan Esposito led Sac State (6-3, 4-2 Big Sky) with 26 points and Bryce Fowler added 25 as the Hornets finished shooting 39.1% from the floor and 9 for 26 from 3-point range. Fouls hurt Montana, as Owens, Mack Anderson and Michael Steadman all fouled out and Sac State went 26 for 37 from the free throw line while Montana was 13 for 17.
Montana shot out quickly again with a 26-13 lead by the 6:31 mark in the first half, with 21 of those points coming from Owens and Whitney. But the Griz hit a cold spell, going almost five minutes without a point, and Sac State climbed back into the game and trimmed the deficit to 30-25 by the break.
Sac State eventually took control and led 56-48 with 7:41 to go, but Montana responded with an 8-0 run to tie it with just over four minutes to play.
Parker, who scored all of his points in the second half and overtime periods, scored eight of Montana's final 12 points in regulation, including a 3-pointer with 54 seconds to go that gave UM a 68-65 lead. Sac State used free throws to tie the game down the stretch to send the game into overtime 68-68.
Parker scored Montana's first five points in overtime as the Griz took a 73-72 lead. Then, trailing by two, Parker converted on a layup with 19 seconds left in the first overtime to tie it 78-78, and Sac State was unable to respond, sending the game to the second OT.
Whitney knocked down a 3-pointer to get Montana within 84-83 in the second overtime, but that was as close as the Griz got as Sac State sealed the game with free throws to end it.
Steadman had only one foul in the first half but picked up four fouls in three minutes in the second half as he finished with just five points. Anderson, however, picked up where he left off from Thursday's breakout performance against the Hornets. Anderson finished with career-highs in minutes played (28) and rebounds (10) while adding four points and a block. After scoring 12 points against the Hornets on Thursday, Anderson was a force on defense on Saturday as he made life challenging for Sac State's guards in the lane by altering numerous shots in the paint. He fouled out with over two minutes left in the first overtime.
Owens, who was coming off of a 22-point performance on Thursday, grabbed two quick fouls in the first half but still scored 10 points despite sitting for half of the first frame. He was called for a fifth foul just 20 seconds into the second overtime, which left Montana without three of its tallest players to man the wings or paint.
Sac State ultimately won the rebounding battle 46 to 43.
Montana hosts rival Montana State (9-3, 6-0 Big Sky) on Thursday in Dahlberg Arena.
Notes: Derrick Carter-Hollinger did not suit up for Saturday's contest, his second straight missed game and fifth on the season. ... Eddy Egun started for the second straight contest for the Grizzlies, finishing with two points and three rebounds in 12 minutes of work.