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Portland St. 76, Montana St. 69

January 19, 1997

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Matt Ambrose came off the bench to score 17 points and Jamaal Sanford had two key blocks in the final minutes to lead Portland State past Montana State 76-69 Saturday night in the Big Sky Conference.

Derek Nesland added 15 points and Brian Towne had 13 as the Vikings (3-12 overall, 1-5 in the Big Sky) converted free throws in the closing seconds to preserve their first conference win of the season.

Danny Sprinkle led the Bobcats (9-9, 3-3) with 26 points, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and Mel Claxton added 11 points.

Sanford started an 11-0 run in the second half and Mike Vanderhoff’s back-to-back hoops gave the Vikings a 51-42 lead with 11:07 left.

Nate Holmstadt, whose only first-half points came on two free throws, scored consecutive baskets with 5:48 left to close Portland State’s lead to 60-55. But Nesland then hit a 3-pointer to put the Vikings ahead 63-55.

The closest Montana State got was 68-65 on a layup by Lance Fay with 2:08 remaining. But Sanford blocked a pair of shots to shut down the Bobcats’ next two possessions.

Vanderhoff sank two free throws and Towne hit two more with 54 seconds left to put the Vikings ahead 72-65.

Sanford finished with a team-high nine rebounds and five blocks.

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