Arkadiy Mkrtychyan had 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, Victor Sanders added 19 points, including five in the last 1:33, and No. 5 seed Idaho beat Montana 81-77 on Thursday in the Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals.
Brayon Blake had 12 points and Pat Ingram and Nate Sherwood scored 10 apiece for Idaho (18-12), which will play top-seeded North Dakota (20-9) in the semifinals at 6:35 p.m. Friday (630 AM).
“I thought our guys played extremely hard tonight, with a lot of heart,’’ Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “Pat coming up with those big offensive rebounds. The gameplan was to go down low early and I thought Ark delivered early, time and time again. I thought Montana did a really nice job of pressuring us and not allowing us to get it down there that easily.
“One thing we’ve been working on all year long is sustaining our intensity and playing to the final horn, no matter what it is. I thought our guys did that tonight.’’
Walter Wright’s jumper with 2:21 to play gave No. 4 seed Montana its first lead since 16-15. Sherwood and Wright traded free throws to make it 74-73, but Sanders hit a contested jumper and a baseline runner as the shot clock expired to give the Vandals a three-point lead with 48 seconds remaining.
Fabijan Krslovic made a pair of foul shots 15 seconds later to make it 77-76, but the Grizzlies missed their last three shots and Idaho made 4-of-6 free throws to seal the victory.
Idaho shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26) from the floor in the first half and finished at 54.9 percent (28-of-51). The Vandals won the battle of the boards 32-24.
Wright scored 22 points and Ahmaad Rorie added 16 from Montana (16-16).
North Dakota reached the semifinals with a 95-72 victory over Portland State. The Vandals lost their only meeting with North Dakota this season 88-65 in Grand Forks.
Two Thursday night quarterfinal games included Sacramento State-Eastern Washington and Southern Utah-Weber State.
The Big Sky championship game starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.
The winner advances to the NCAA Tournament, where Idaho hasn’t played since 1990.