WSU led by seven at 55-48 with 3:51 remaining but the Bears closed the game on a 7-0 run to force overtime. The Wildcats started overtime on an 8-1 run with Big Sky MVP Davion Berry scoring five points in that stretch. Berry’s layup with 12 seconds left gave the Wildcats a three-point lead and WSU’s defense held on for the win.
“Sometimes you just have to find a way to survive and advance and that’s what we were able to do tonight,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “In tournament play, that’s all that matters. I’m really proud of our kids for how they fought through it tonight and found a way.”
The Wildcats finished the night shooting 46 percent from the field, compared to 50 percent for UNC. Both teams had 31 rebounds and the ‘Cats shot 8-20 from 3-point range. WSU had a season-low eight free throw attempts and made a season-low six free throws.
Berry led the Wildcats with 15 points and added five assists while Richardson had 13 points and five rebounds. Senior Kyle Tresnak had 11 points and four rebounds. Freshman Richaud Gittens added 10 points off the bench.
Northern Colorado was led by Derrick Barden who finished with 21 points. The Bears fell to 18-13 with the loss and are now 0-9 all-time against the Wildcats at the Dee Events Center.
The Wildcats will host North Dakota Saturday at 6 p.m. for the championship of the Big Sky Tournament. It will be WSU’s third straight season and fourth time in the last five years playing in the title game. North Dakota defeated Portland State 79-63 in the other semifinal game Friday. The Wildcats are 5-0 all-time against North Dakota.
Saturday’s championship game will begin at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.