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Men’s college basketball: Grambling State rallies past Montana State for first NCAA Tournament victory

by Russell Hedges

The Grambling State Tigers rallied for an 88-81 overtime victory over Montana State in a First Four NCAA Tournament game Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

The No. 16 seed Tigers (21-4) will take on No. 1 Purdue (29-4) Friday at 6:25 p.m. in a Midwest Regional first-round game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game will be broadcast on TBS.

Grambling State made history by making the NCAA Tournament for the first time after winning the SWAC regular-season and tournament titles.

The Tigers trailed 42-33 at the half. They rallied in the second and send the game into overtime tied at 72.

With the score tied at 78 and 1:43 remaining, GSU went on an 8-0 run capped by two Antwan Burnett free throws for an 86-78 lead with 26 seconds left.

Robert Ford IIII cut it the lead to five on a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left but the Bobcats got no closer.

The Tigers trailed 53-39 with 14:40 left in regulation. They got within 59-51 with 8:20 left then went on a 9-0 run that put them ahead 60-59 with 5:50 remaining.

GSU led by as many as four but Montana State took a 72-70 lead with 52 seconds left.  Jimel Cofer’s layup tied it at 72 with 37 seconds left.

Both teams missed shots in the final 11 seconds.

Cofer led Grambling State with 19 points. Burnett and Jourdan Smith scored 18 apiece. Burnett also had nine rebounds.

Mikale Stevenson added 10 points. Tra’Michael Moton had six assists.

Ford, who was 6-of-9 from 3-point range, led Montana State (17-18) with 26 points.

The Bobcats hit 13-of-30 3-point attempts. The Tigers made 4-of-10.

Grambling State won the rebound battle 41-27.

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