Dec. 7, 2007
MISSOULA, Mont. - Sophomore guard Nik Raivio drilled a long three-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining to lift the Portland Pilots to a 58-57 win over the Montana Grizzlies Friday night at Dahlberg Arena. The Pilots led most of the game before the Grizzlies took the lead down the stretch to set up Raivio's clutch three.
"I knew time was running down and I wanted to take the last shot," Raivio said. "We were kind of scrambling on offense and as soon as Luke (Sikma) passed it out to me there was no doubt I was taking the shot. I knew it was going in as soon as it left my hands."
Montana (5-4) went the length of the court on the final possession, but Jordan Hasquet's off balance 8-footer at the buzzer rimmed off and deflated the home crowd of 4,130.
Raivio scored a game-high 17 points and added a season-high eight rebounds to lead the Pilots (3-6), while freshman center Kramer Knutson added a career-high 10.
Hasquett finished with 15 points, but was held to just one in the first period when the Pilots led by as much as 13. Seniors Matt Martin and Andrew Strait added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Pilots' lead evaporated midway through the second period and Montana took their first lead of the half on a three-pointer by Cameron Rundles with 8:09 remaining at 47-46. The teams exchanged leads before a pair of free throws by Andrew Strait gave the Grizzlies a 54-52 lead with 2:34 left. Raivio then hit a tough three from the right wing to retake the lead, but Hasquet answered with a jumper. Rundles made one of two at the stripe with 35 seconds remaining to give UM a two-point lead and set up the final sequence.
"I thought all of our guys made good decisions on the last play," Portland head coach Eric Reveno said. "Nobody forced it and Luke (Sikma) made the right pass out to Nik. When the game is on the line, you definitely want him on your side and he hit a big shot."
Luke Sikma added eight rebounds four assists and four blocked shots in another well-played all-around game for Portland. The Pilots gained a 41-33 edge in rebounds and shot 44 percent from the field compared to Montana's 35 percent.
Portland dominated the first half and led be as much as 13 points late in the period. The Grizzlies shot just 7-for-29 in the half, but used a Brian Qvale layup at the halftime buzzer to cut the deficit to 29-20.
"To win like we did tonight shows a lot about us," Raivio added. "We gave up a big lead, but bounced back and pull it out against an NCAA Tournament caliber opponent shows about our character as a team. It was a huge win."
The Pilots continue their three-game road trip next weekend at Washington in Seattle. The Pilots and Huskies will meet on Saturday at 3 p.m. in a game televised live on FSN Northwest. The road swing concludes on Monday at Eastern Washington at 7 p.m.
"We've learned a lot through our early season losses," Reveno added. "Hopefully we can learn from winning too."
NOTES: Sophomore point guard Taishi Ito returned to the starting lineup after missing the last four games while in Japan to be with his family after his father passed away last week. Ito played 34 minutes and finished with six points.