The Montana State men’s basketball team got back on the right track this weekend, earning a pair of road victories against the University of Northern Colorado and the University of North Dakota. After a string of close losses, the Bobcats finally got their chance to be on the winning end of close games.
On Thursday, the Cats faced off against the UNC Bears, and it was a brawl to the last minute. After weeks of slow offense and missed opportunities, the Bobcats started hot and stayed hot for the full 40 minutes, posting 90 points — thanks in part to a massive game from senior guard Michael Dison. The Cats were up 40-34 at the half, assisted by shooting over 50 percent from the floor and over 40 percent from 3-point range. The Bobcats finally started to pull away with just under four minutes to play, going on a 7-0 run to push their lead to 82-72 and essentially close out the game. The Bears did their best to close the gap and got within striking distance, but the Cats held them off and secured the 90-87 victory.
Dison led the Cats with 23 points on 10-15 shooting, also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing three assists. Sophomore guard Stephan Holm added 18 points and junior guard Marcus Colbert scored 13 points, both providing scoring off the bench. The Bears were led by guard Cameron Michael, going shot-for-shot with Dison and posting 24 points.
After the win in Greeley, the Cats continued on their road trip and headed to Grand Forks to play North Dakota for the second time this season. In the first matchup, UND got the better of the Bobcats in a 67-60 game in Bozeman. The Cats were eager to return the favor, and thanks to another game of hot shooting were able to squeeze out an 80-78 win. It was a rollercoaster ride of a game, complete with a grand finale. The two squads traded runs, with the Cats pushing their lead to as many as 10 while also falling behind by as many as seven. With the score tied in the closing seconds, the Bobcats’ hopes were on the shoulders of Colbert as he drove to the basket for a game-winning layup. Colbert’s scoop didn’t find the hoop, but the junior guard grabbed his own rebound and tossed up a last second shot that this time hit home, giving MSU an 80-78 victory.
Senior Eric Norman feasted, posting his first career double-double with 22 points and 12 boards on an extremely efficient 13-15 shooting performance, which nabbed him Big Sky Conference player of the week honors. Dison and Colbert poured in 18 points apiece in what looks to be a much improved Bobcat offense heading into the second half of the Big Sky Conference season.
The pair of wins leave the Cats at an improved 6-19 (3-10 in conference play) and should give the rebuilding squad a much needed boost of confidence after a rough stretch of close losses. The Bobcats will look to continue their positive play at home this weekend, facing the Weber State Wildcats on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and the Idaho State Bengals Saturday afternoon for a 2:35 p.m. tipoff.