With 5.6 seconds remaining, Blake Poole sank two free throws to give the Saints a 62-61 lead against Montana State Billings.
But Tyler Barnes scored on a tip-in at the buzzer to give the Yellowjackets a dramatic 63-62 comeback victory after trailing by nine points in the second half.
“We let them hang around,” Saints coach Keith Cooper said. “We didn’t put them away.”
After Poole’s two free throws, 5-foot-10 guard Jaxon Myaer drove the length of the court and tried an off-balance layup that rolled off the rim. Barnes tipped in the miss, barely beating the buzzer and the Saints, silencing the crowd at Marcus Pavilion.
“This hurts,” said Jeremy Green, who led the Saints with 14 points. “They capitalized on our mistakes.”
Saint Martin’s led 49-40 on Brok Pendleton’s basket with 8:56 remaining. But Montana State Billings went on a 13-2 run to take a 53-51 lead on DeAndre Chambers running jumper with 4:14 to play.
There were six lead changes in the final four minutes.
Green’s flying layup off a fastbreak pass from Eric Taylor gave the Saints a 56-55 lead with 2:41 to play. After the Yellowjackets regained the lead, Poole muscled inside to rebound his own miss and was fouled with 1:29 to go, giving him 1,000 career rebounds.
Poole made both free throws for a 58-57 lead. But the Saints couldn’t hang on.
“They did a nice job with their zones and of not letting us get the ball inside to Blake (Poole) and Jeremy (Green),” Cooper said. “We just didn’t hit enough outside shots.”
Saint Martin’s went 5-for-16 from 3-point range.
A month ago, Saint Martin’s won at Montana State Billings, 70-54.
Barnes’ winning tip was his second basket of the game.
“Honestly, we didn’t play that well against them last time,” Montana State Billings coach George Pfeifer said. “We did a better job of executing this time. We shot nearly 60 percent.”
Coming into the game, Poole needed nine rebounds to join Fred Hooks of Humboldt State as the only players in GNAC history with 1,000 rebounds in a career.
Poole finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Yellowjackets sank seven of their first eight shots to open a 16-8 lead seven minutes into the game.
Trailing 23-13 with 8:45 remaining, the Saints went on a 13-4 run, pulling to 27-26 on Green’s jump hook with 53 seconds to play in the half.
Myaer scored on a lay-in 1.8 seconds before halftime and the Yellowjackets led 29-26 at halftime.
Montana State Billings (5-13 overall, 3-8 GNAC), led by Myaer’s 17 points, snapped a four-game losing streak.
The Saints (11-9, 4-6) lost their third straight.
The Saint Martin’s women won at Western Oregon, 72-52.