The MSU men’s basketball team played the University of Nebraska Omaha in Great Falls at the Pacific Steel Arena for their first official game of the season on Friday, Nov. 10. As the teams went head-to-head in overtime, there is no doubt that last year’s competition with the UNO Mavericks came to mind. A year ago, the Cats lost by a 3-pointer in the final seconds, but this time, the Bobcats reigned victorious, sending Omaha home with a loss.
The Cats showed up determined to win. They began with momentum and left the first half seven points ahead (32-25). In the second half, Omaha picked up the pace and matched the Bobcats at 36 points only four minutes into the third quarter. Junior Joe Mvuezolo took the lead back for the Cats with a layup. As the game continued, the points racked up for both teams, but MSU was looking good with the clock at 4:42 in the fourth quarter up by 11 (62-51). In the final minutes, Omaha jumped ahead by one, putting the score at 68-67 with only 41 seconds left. At 0:19, MSU junior Keljin Blevins was fouled and made the first free throw. He missed the second, but kept the Cats in the fight as they went into overtime (68-68). In the extra period, sophomore Harald Frey took the game by storm, scoring six points in the first minute. The Bobcats stayed ahead and finished strong with a final score of 89-80.
This is the first time the Cats have won their season opener since 2003. Head coach Brian Fish says this is because they “emphasized attention to detail and getting stops.” The strategy worked well for the team on Friday. Junior Tyler Hall mentioned that “there was a lot of pressure on that last stop. I didn’t want to lose. I didn’t want to let my teammates down.” The Bobcats were off to a great season start as they headed to Logan, Utah for their next game.
On Monday, Nov. 13 the Cats played another great game, but it wasn’t enough to overturn Utah State. Going into halftime, Bobcats were up by one (41-40). MSU defense lost cohesion as the game resumed and USU took advantage. The Cats lost by 8, leaving with the final score 73-81.
The men’s team will play again on Nov. 18 against Louisiana Tech in Ruston, LA.