MISSOULA, Mont. -- Halfway through the Big Sky Conference race, the Griz still hold the upper hand.
Montana held its breath as Davion Berry's 3-point try from halfcourt came up short to give the Grizzlies a two-point win, 76-74, over Weber State on Saturday night at Dahlberg Arena and a two-game lead in the league title chase.
Will Cherry scored 28 points to lead the Griz as his old high school teammate, Frank "Mook" Otis, tied for Weber State's team-high with 17 points in an emotional game.
Tensions nearly boiled in the postgame handshake line when some unfriendly words between players led to pushing and shoving before the court was cleared.
The Grizzlies (14-4, 10-0), who have knocked the Wildcats out of the Big Sky tournament three seasons in a row, won their 23rd consecutive game against conference opponents, dating back to their loss last January against the Wildcats.
Kareem Jamar and Mathias Ward each scored 11 points for Montana and Spencer Coleman had 10.
Weber State (13-5, 8-2 Big Sky) lost its second straight game since beginning league play 8-0, but they fought harder after a frustrating loss Thursday at Montana State.
"They did exactly what I thought they would do," Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. "They responded with toughness, a lot of heart, and we fought them like crazy. It was a good college basketball game. We put ourselves in a position to win and we didn't make the plays we needed down the stretch."
Berry finished with 17 points while Kyle Tresnak and Scott Bamforth each added 14 for WSU.
Bamforth drilled a 3-pointer to tie it at 66-all with 3:49 to go to set up an intense finish.
The Grizzlies led by as many as eight in the final minute after Coleman put back an offensive rebound and Cherry sank two free throws with 41 seconds to go.
"We turned it over twice at critical times and gave up an offensive rebound when the game was anybody's game," Rahe said. "It went from a tie or two-point game to a four- to six-game and that was basically the difference. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win and you can't turn the ball over in critical situations."
After trading layups and free throws, Weber State was down four with 14 seconds to go when Jordan Richardon missed a 3 and Gelaun Wheelwright got his own offensive putback with 3.1 seconds to go.
The Griz only needed to run out the clock, but they threw their inbounds pass out of bounds on the opposite side, though the refs ruled it was touched by Coleman before it went out.
The turnover gave Weber State a chance to tie, but with no timeouts to set up a play. Berry caught the ball and dribbled to halfcourt, where his shot at the buzzer came up short.
Montana coach Wayne Tinkle, a former Stew Morrill assistant like Rahe, was surprised that the Wildcats shot 59.3 percent from the field in the second half.
"Holy smokes, I didn't know that," he said. "We got to the free-throw line. They got a lot of those baskets in the last couple of minutes. I just thought we kept enough separation by making plays at the other end. We were able to get to the finish line. We were not happy with the way we defended in the last two minutes, but I'm proud of our guys for finding a way."
Weber State outshot the Griz 51.9 percent overall to 45.8 percent and led at halftime.
The Wildcats broke a three-quarter court press to find Berry a 3-pointer to cap a 12-2 charge for a 23-12 advantage that gave WSU its largest lead of the first half, but the Griz wouldn't stay down long.
Cherry provided a spark during an 18-5 run with an incredible reverse layup as he was falling down for an and-1. Kevin Henderson drilled a contested 3 in the corner to give Montana its first lead since trailing by 11, but Richardson took it back with an and-1. Cherry and Bamforth each hit a pair of free throws at the end of the half as Weber State took a 36-35 lead to the locker room.
The Wildcats go back out on the road next week for two games at North Dakota and Northern Colorado.
* NORTH DAKOTA 81, NORTHERN ARIZONA 79: At Flagstaff, Ariz., Troy Huff had 26 points, grabbed eight rebounds and North Dakota went on a 32-10 run to begin the second half to steal a victory over Northern Arizona.
North Dakota (8-12, 5-5 Big Sky) trailed by as many as 22 in the first half and was down 47-36 at halftime but sprinted out of the gates in the second half.
Aaron Anderson had seven points and 10 assists for North Dakota.
Gabe Rogers scored a career-high 35 points to lead Northern Arizona (7-12, 4-6).
* SOUTHERN UTAH 69, EASTERN WASHINGTON 55: At Cedar City, Wade Collie scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and Southern Utah jumped out to an 11-2 lead to begin the game and never looked back, defeating Eastern Washington.
Southern Utah (7-12, 5-5 Big Sky) had two others in double figures against the Thunderbirds with Damon Heuir scoring 17 points and Jackson Stevenett chipping in with 16 points and six rebounds.
Down 11-2, the Eagles fought back with a 16-6 run to take an 18-17 lead with 10:23 to go in the first half and eventually led 33-31 at halftime.
Collin Chiverton had 14 points to lead Eastern Washington (4-15, 2-7) and the Big Sky's leading rebounder Venky Jois, a freshman, had 11 points and seven rebounds.
* MONTANA STATE 61, IDAHO STATE 59 (OT): At Bozeman, Mont., Antonio Biglow hit two free throws with 17 seconds left in overtime, giving Montana State a victory over Idaho State.
Flavien Davis led the Bobcats (9-9, 6-4 Big Sky) with 24 points. Christian Moon added 12 points, and Xavier Blount had eight assists.
Chris Hansen led Idaho State (4-15, 3-7) with 20 points and nine rebounds. Tomas Sanchez and Melvin Morgan added 11 points apiece. The Bengals did not make a field goal in OT.