The Montana State men’s basketball team entered the final stretch this weekend with a couple of key Big Sky Conference matchups for the young Bobcat squad. Coming off their first consecutive pair of road wins in a decade, the rebuilding squad returned home looking to continue the streak against the Weber State Wildcats and the Idaho State Bengals, but split both games.
On Thursday night, the Bobcats and Wildcats squared off in a game that came down to the wire. Weber State couldn’t miss to begin the game, hitting shot after shot, but the Bobcats never let them pull away. Despite trailing by double digits, the Bobcats stayed in the game and time after time pulled themselves right back into the fray. However, merely keeping the game close was not going to be enough and as the game wound down, it became clear that the Cats would have to make a breakthrough. Montana State got their chance in the final seconds when, trailing 75-72, senior guard Michael Dison attempted a last second 3-point shot to send the game into overtime, but instead went just long.
Despite the loss, plenty of bright spots for the Bobcats emerged. Dison led all scorers with 22 points, his fifth game over 20 this season. Junior guard Marcus Colbert continued his solid offensive play posting 17 points and junior forward Danny Robison had 13 points.
On Saturday afternoon, the Bobcats tipped off against the Idaho State Bengals in a very winnable game for the Cats. In a rare occurrence this season, Montana State got off to a hot start to begin the game, pulling out to a double digit lead early in the first half. The Bengals slowly but surely clawed their way back in however, thanks in part to a nearly 10 minute scoring drought by the Bobcats, dragging the Cats to a 31-24 halftime deficit. In the second half, the Cats looked rejuvenated and came out firing on all cylinders and playing smothering defense. Montana State outscored their opponent 43-22 in the second half, leading them to their sixth victory of the season by a final score of 67-53.
“There’s a tremendous amount of improvements that can be made … We’ve continued to play really hard and fought through some adversity,” MSU Head Coach Brian Fish said. “We’ve still got a bit left in the tank for the rest of the season.”
Leading charge once again for the Bobcats was Dison, improving on his big game earlier in the week, this time putting up 29 points to once again lead all scorers, including four 3-pointers. Colbert again scored 17 points on an extremely efficient 7 of 8 shooting performance. Senior forward Eric Norman also contributed 11 rebounds for the Bobcats.
The home split moves the Bobcats out of last place in the Big Sky Conference, now with a record of 7-20 (4-11 in BSC play). The Bobcats hit the road for the final time this season, heading west to face the Eastern Washington Eagles this Thursday and the Idaho Vandals on Saturday. After the road trip, the Cats will play the University of Montana Grizzlies in the final game of the 2014-2015 campaign. The rivalry matchup will take place on Saturday, March 7 and will tipoff at 7 p.m.