While the entire MSU campus cleared out for winter break, the men’s basketball team was busy battling to close out the season with a winning record. Historically, the Cats don’t fare well in the winter months and fall susceptible to a harsh losing streak that seems to plague the team for the remainder of the semester. The Cats went 2 for 6 last season during December. Unfortunately the Cats found themselves once again falling prey to the “cold streak” for this season as well, managing only to win 2 of their 7 match-ups. The Cats closed out December with a 7-9 overall record. With 2016 just around the corner, the Cats’ New Year’s resolution was to achieve a winning record. Of course, like the 90 percent of New Year’s Resolutions broken by Jan. 2, so was the Cats’, and they’ve got a lot more work to do to procure that winning record after back-to-back losses in the opening week of the 2016 season. The team finished up the first week of spring semester with back-to-back loses on the road, putting them at an overall record of 7-11.
Their first match-up last Thursday, Jan. 14, saw the team traveling to Grand Forks to go head-to-head with North Dakota. Going into the game, North Dakota possessed a 7-8 record, facing off with was a 7-9 Bobcats. The Cats were out scored in the first half, falling into a 10 point deficit of 28-39. “I thought we were locked in and ready to play,” said Bobcat Head Coach Brian Fish, “but we missed some shot
s early. Their point guard made three or four shots. We just struggled to get something going.” This set the precedent for the rest of the game, the Cats never surpassing North Dakota’s lead. Montana State fell to 7-10 overall, 2-3 in the Big Sky, with the loss. North Dakota is now 8-8, 3-2.
The Cats then traveled to Greeley, Colorado to face the Bears. The hectic last nine seconds against the Bears in the 4th quarter will forever be imprinted in senior Marcus Colbert’s mind. He took the final shot to tie the game but missed even after a tip attempt by freshman Tyler Hall to seal the shot. The Cats had scrabbled back from an eight point deficit tying the score with 39 seconds to play on a three-point shot. He was fouled and converted the free throw. UNC’s Jeremy Verhagen made a pair of free throws with 26 seconds to play to set up MSU’s final possession, which ended with the failed shot attempt to tie.
“Our effort has been good all along,” Fish said, “But we have to get some stops. You can’t allow 60 percent shooting in the second half, and you can’t put the other team at the line as many times as we do, and win on the road.”
Hall totaled 37 points over the past two games, raising his season total to 320, making him the fastest Bobcat to ever reach 300 total points.
With the two back-to-back losses, the men’s team will come back home to face a 9-8 Eastern Washington in the Brick on Thursday, Jan. 21.