The Montana State men’s basketball team ended their nine game losing skid on Thursday night with their comeback victory over the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds. However, the Cats couldn’t build off that momentum two days later when they fell to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
Licking their wounds from their weekend tussle with the University of Montana Grizzlies, the Bobcats returned home for their first two home games of the semester looking for a spark. They found it on Thursday night in sophomore guard Stephan Holm. Holm was perfect on the night from both the field and the charity stripe, hitting all seven of his shots (including three 3-pointers) and both of his free throws for 19 points.
Down 41-35 at the half against the Thunderbirds, the Bobcats outscored their opponents 44 to 24 in the second half. The difference came from beyond the arc. The Cats shot over 50 percent from three (12-23) while holding the Thunderbirds to just 35 percent from the same range. Guards Marcus Colbert and Michael Dison each went four of five from downtown and contributed 15 and 16 points, respectively.
After the come-from-behind victory, the Cats looked to start a winning streak with a win against the Lumberjacks Saturday afternoon. The squads traded punches throughout the first half, eventually battling to a 28-26 NAU lead at halftime. In the second half, the Bobcats sprung out to a quick 10-point lead just five minutes in, but the Lumberjacks wouldn’t go down quietly. The scrappy NAU team clawed their way back into the mix, and down the stretch they began to pull away. It seemed as though every time MSU made a big play, NAU responded with a big play of their own. In the end, the Lumberjacks’ shooting from three and at the free throw line was enough to ensure them the victory.
Dison led the Bobcats in scoring with 18 points while Colbert added 15 and Robison contributed 14 points. Senior forward Eric Norman had a big game on the glass, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks and eight points.
For NAU, forward Quinton Upshur led the way with 18 points on six of nine shooting and guard Kris Yanku had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Yanku was close to the elusive triple-double, only needing two more rebounds on the day to earn one.
“Our margin of error is so thin. When it starts sliding, we don’t really have the ability to go and get it and change that in a hurry,” MSU Head Coach Brian Fish said. The split leaves the Cats at 4-15 overall and 1-6 in Big Sky Conference play. The men will now hit the road to face Sacramento State and Portland State before returning home on Feb. 5 to face Big Sky newcomer Idaho. The tilt will tip off at 7:05 p.m.