The Bobcats (1-5) had a grueling homestand this week facing the Pepperdine Waves (5-3) on Thursday and the San Jose State Spartans (3-3) on Saturday. Injuries and defensive woes kept the Cats from finishing comebacks in both games.
The Bobcats started strong against Pepperdine, pulling out to a seven-point lead, but Pepperdine closed the gap just before halftime with a 24-8 run. Buckets just didn’t seem to fall for the Cats toward the end of the first half, and Head Coach Brad Huse said it was the turning point in the game.
Another turning point was losing forward Flavien Davis to an ankle injury early in the game. Davis tried to continue, but couldn’t put much weight on the ankle and sat most of the second half. Losing Flavien’s inside presence and Pepperdine’s zone defense forced Huse to play four guards and take a lot of threes.
“I thought we played with really good energy, but not having Flavien in the second half affected us,” Huse said. “Our team competes hard and we had our chances with Pepperdine being it was tied late. I think our guys will finish those games on top as we continue to work together and become more familiar with one another.”
Despite a 10-point lead, MSU started the second half on a roll, pulling to a tie at 50, but couldn’t keep it going. With four minutes left to play, Pepperdine used an 8-2 run to take control of the game and hit their free throws to seal it, 76-66. Xavier Blount paced the Cats with 19 points and six boards.
“Consistency on both offense and defense has been an issue early in the season but I’m confident that will improve with more practice and game experience,” Huse said.
Another late run by the Cats on Saturday against San Jose St. was a little too late. After trailing by double-digits for 30 minutes, the Cats mounted a run that cut the lead to four, but a botched fast break ruined their momentum, and the Spartans hit all their free throws down the stretch to notch the victory, 82-74.
The Spartans shot 53 percent from the field, and the Cats, missing a healthy Davis, shot just 35 percent. “We’ve got to figure out the defensive piece,” Huse said. “We’re a little too porous. This team makes you pay for your mistakes.” Huse thinks Davis will be at 100 percent for their next game when they host Montana Tech on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.