For the Bobcat men and women, the road to March Madness ended prematurely. Though expectations differed for each, the men and the women both lost in their first game of the Big Sky Conference tournament in Reno, Nevada. The men entered seeded seventh in the conference and the women had the top seed.
On Tuesday, March 8, the men faced the 10th seeded Sacramento State Hornets in the first round of the tournament. The men, despite beating the Hornets twice in the regular season, couldn’t find an answer for Sac State senior Cody Demps, who missed the first two contests. The Bobcats shot horribly from beyond the arc, only connecting on 6-of-28 attempts, but still only lost 79-75.
Freshman Tyler Hall led the Cats in scoring, shooting for 17 points and pulling down 8 rebounds and senior Marcus Colbert, in his last game as a Bobcat, scored 15. Sac State’s Justin Strings led all scorers with 25 points.
The loss puts the Cats at 14-17 for the 2015-2016 season, MSU Head Coach Brian Fish’s second. Only losing two players to graduation, the Bobcats look positioned to make a deeper tournament run next year but will need to replace the leadership shown by Colbert and fellow senior Danny Robison.
The women earned a first-round bye in the tournament due to their regular season conference championship, but ultimately met the same end as the men. The Cats squared off against Idaho State Wednesday afternoon, March 9. The women led nearly the entire game, but failed to put enough distance between them and the Bengals in the end, and ISU stunned the Cats with a last second three-pointer to steal the victory from the Bobcats, 52-50.
Doomed by poor free throw shooting, the Cats lost despite having the Big Sky Conference MVP, Newcomer of the Year and Coach of the Year in senior Jasmine Hommes, junior Riley Nordgaard and Tricia Binford, respectively. Junior reserve Peyton Ferris led the Cats with 16 points off the bench and Hommes contributed 10 on 4-of-19 shooting. The Bobcats will have a tough time rebounding from the loss, graduating a number of important seniors. However, Binford signed a three-year contract extension after the regular season so the Cats will continue to have a top tier coach to rely on.