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Northern Colorado wins Big Sky to reach first NCAA tourney

Mar 10, 2011 - 4:59 AM Greeley, CO (Sports Network) - Devon Beitzel had 27 points, including a pair of crucial free throws late in the game, to help Northern Colorado take a 65-60 win over Montana to win the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

Beitzel was just 5-of-13 from the floor, but did hit 14 of his 17 free throws while Neal Kingman added 10 points and five rebounds for the top-seeded Bears (21-10), who are heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Art Steward had 16 points while Kareem Jamar and Will Cherry each contributed 13 points for the second-seeded Grizzlies (21-10), who were making their 14th appearance in the Big Sky title game.

The Bears held a 57-50 lead with under a minute to play on a Beitzel three- pointer, but Jamar answered with a three-pointer of his own.

After Beitzel made two from the line, Jamar hit another three-ball and one-of- two from the stripe by Beitzel was followed by a layup from Brian Qvale to make it a 60-58 game.

Elliott Lloyd then connected on two free throws and Qvale made a layup to keep it at one possession. However, Beitzel made two free throws and a turnover from Steward saw Chris Kaba convert that into another free throw for a 65-60 lead with just seconds remaining and Northern Colorado hung on for the win.

Montana scored the first seven points of the game, but Northern Colorado was able to keep it close and it was a tie game, 31-31, heading into the break.

A 7-0 run from Northern Colorado in the latter stages of the second half saw the team take a lead it never relinquished.

Game Notes

Montana still holds an 11-6 edge in the series...Qvale finished the game with 11 points.