The men’s basketball team travelled to Missoula on Saturday, Feb. 20 and competed in the second installment of the annual Brawl of Wild against the University of Montana. The Bobcats came up short against the Grizzlies, losing 87-78.
In a physical game between cross-state rivals, it was the Montana Grizzlies that were able to grind out the victory. The Griz struck first, opening up the game with a three-ball from Brandon Gfeller, but the Cats rallied back to take a 12-10 lead with a three-pointer from freshman Tyler Hall. The Bobcats went on a 11-5 run to establish a 23-15 lead halfway through the first half, but the Griz fought back to tie it at 29 apiece with 4:15 left in the half. The Griz finished off the first half with a 12-5 run, leading the Bobcats 41-34 at the intermission. Griz freshman Michael Oguine led all scorers at the break with 17 points.
The Bobcats had a slow start to the second half, and Montana was able to hit two threes before the Cats could answer. The Griz lead by double digits on multiple occasions throughout the second half, but the Bobcats always clawed back in it. The Cats fought to within one point at the 12:41 mark, off of three free-throws from Hall. That would be as close as the Cats would get however, as the Griz slowly rebuilt their lead back up to 11 at the 3:40 mark. The Cats would not get much closer, and the Griz claimed another victory by the score of 87-78. For the Griz, Oguine led the team in scoring, racking up 27 points for the Grizzlies. For the Cats it was freshman phenomenon Hall who had a game-high 30 points. Senior Marcus Colbert added 18 points and 5 assists for the Cats. While the Cats held a 34-32 advantage over the boards, the Grizzlies held better shooting percentages. UM shot .533 to the Bobcats’ .433 on field goal percentage and .600 to the Cats’ .393 from deep. MSU went 15-22 from the charity stripe, while Montana drilled 30 of 42 attempts.
“The guys fought hard,” said Bobcat Head Coach Brian Fish. “We got it down to a one, two possession game but it seemed like every big possession they got themselves to the foul line. And unless they change the rules, you can’t guard them there.” Montana improves to 12-2 in Big Sky Conference play. Montana State falls to 12-14 overall, 7-7 in Big Sky Conference play.
The Cats travel to Weber State and Idaho State on Feb. 25 and 27, respectively, for two more tough conference games down the stretch.