A game that started with a botched National Anthem and a malfunctioning game clock throughout the night finished in thrilling fashion as the Rams pulled out the 62-61 win over Montana (6-4) Saturday night at Moby Arena.
Inbounding the ball with 1.7 seconds on the clock, Montana’s last second shot from underneath the hoop just rolled off the rim, giving the Rams the victory, head coach Tim Miles said the team is lucky to have.
“Here’s what I’ll say. We got lucky,” Miles said at the post-game press conference. “Tonight we weren’t mentally tough and we got lucky.”
The Rams (7-3) got off to a painfully slow and sluggish start and junior guard Adam Nigon, who scored 17 points, suggested the team had a hangover from the emotional win over the University of Colorado on Thursday. CSU turned the ball over six times in the opening seven minutes of the game.
They weren’t the only ones who were sloppy though.
The singer of the National Anthem twice had to re-start and admitted to not knowing the words. Then it was the game-clock which started to malfunction causing two 15-minute delays.
Once back settled into the court, Nigon caught fire. The junior drained four three-pointers in the first half, scoring 15 total – half of the Rams 30 first-half points.
“I felt good. Once the first two got in and I was open in the corners, I just kept letting it go and they were falling,” Nigon said.
Freshman point guard, Dorian Green, led the Rams with 18 points, none more important than his last two.
Trailing, 60-61 with ten seconds remaining, Green was fouled driving to the hoop and headed to the free-throw line for two shots. Green had missed one free throw in each of his previous two trips to the line, but nailed two to seal the win.
“I wasn’t really that nervous. I knew that I had to slow down a little bit and keep the same routine I’ve been doing and they’ll fall,” Green said.
Miles said it’s a testament to Green’s talents that he is the go-to player for the Rams as a freshman.
“We just went to him. If you want to be good at end-game you need play-makers. In basketball it’s the guy with the ball in his hands and that’s Dorian,” Miles said.
Montana guard, Anthony Johnson, led the Grizzlies with 19 points including 10 in the final three minutes.
Nigon said gutting this win out is big for the program.
“We were sluggish the whole 25-30 minutes of the game. To come out and finish a game like that is huge for our momentum and our program that we can win these tight games,” Nigon said. “We’re going to do the little things at the end of tight games to win games like that.”
Men’s baskteball beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.