After a tough 90-84 loss to the University of Montana on Feb. 4, the Bobcats looked to rebound on the road facing Northern Arizona University on Feb. 9 and Southern Utah University Feb. 11. After the Cats’ five-game win streak snapped, the team was ranked back at the bottom of the Big Sky Conference.
The Cats headed to Northern Arizona (NAU) to face off against the Lumberjacks for the first time this season. NAU had won the last three home games against Big Sky opponents. The Bobcats started strong, scoring the first four points of the game but NAU responded by scoring the next 10 and never relinquished the lead after that, winning 69-63.
The Lumberjacks out-rebounded Montana State 46-34, and turned 11 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. NAU was led by senior Jordyn Martin who impressed MSU Head Coach Brian Fish, “Martin had 23 [points] and 14 [rebounds], We couldn’t get him off [the boards]. “They were 15-1 in the first half on second-chance points. We gave ourselves a chance in the second half, we got stops and got ourselves into [the game],” Fish said.
Sophomore Sam Neumann led the Bobcats with 14 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Tyler Hall added 13 and senior Quinton Everett had 11 points.
The Bobcats then faced last place Southern Utah University (SUU) on Feb. 11. Hall led the Bobcats with 23 points, including 16 in the second half, while freshman Harald Frey added 19. Everett scored 18 points, the second most of his career and the most against a Big Sky opponent.
“I think it came down to Quinton [Everett]. He gave us his best game of the year and I can’t take enough away from that because we had guys out with the flu. Everett played exclusively the four and played a lot of minutes and was very effective,” Fish said.
The Thunderbirds kept it close, out-rebounding the Cats 33-24, but MSU forced a season-high 23 turnovers. SUU junior Randy Onwuasor scored 32 points to lead all players, but MSU pulled through, winning 83-78.
Montana State improved its record to 12-14 overall, 7-6 in Big Sky play, with the win against SUU. MSU begins a three-game homestand Feb. 16, hosting Portland State at 7 p.m.