(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
BOZEMAN — The Montana State men’s basketball team led at halftime, but went cold in the second half en route to a 73-63 loss at Weber State on Thursday night.
The Bobcats (17-9, 10-3 Big Sky Conference) shot 51.0% from the field in the game, yet a Big Sky Conference-high 15 turnovers led to several big runs from the Wildcats (13-12, 8-4 Big Sky Conference) in the second half. MSU went nearly six minutes without a field goal in the second half while Weber State went on a 12-0 run to reclaim the lead for good. Montana State shot 16-24 (66.7%) in the first half, but only 9-for-25 (36%) in the second half.
“We couldn't make shots,” Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle told Bobcat Sports Radio Network. “During the first three minutes, we made a couple when we were in our 1-3-1 zone, and then we started kicking the ball around. Our post players can’t have 11 turnovers combined between the two of them. Give Weber State credit — I thought they did a good job packing the paint and we didn’t handle that well.”
Great Osobor led the Bobcats with 15 points off the bench — 12 of which came in the first half. RaeQuan Battle added 14 points and Caleb Fuller had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Both teams played the first half fairly close until Osobor checked in and promptly sank his first four field goal attempts. He would finish 4-for-5 with 12 points in the first half, highlighted by a strip-and-score for an uncontested flush midway through the half to put MSU up 16-12. Moments later, Battle’s three made it a 19-12 game with 9:12 remaining.
The lid came off the basket for both teams late in the first half. Darius Brown II picked off a pass and scored an easy layup. Zahir Porter answered. Osobor made his fourth field goal. Porter scored another, then Tyler Patterson’s three gave MSU a 30-25 lead with 3:22 left. Weber State pulled within one possession in the first half twice in the final four minutes, but Osobor came through with four late points, then Brown II’s fastbreak layup capped off the MSU scoring in the first half.
After leading 39-34 at half, the Bobcats extended their lead to seven with back-to-back buckets from Caleb Fuller to open the second. A Jubrile Belo dunk gave MSU a 47-41 lead with 15:13 to go, yet this would be the last MSU field goal for nearly six minutes. The Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to take a 53-47 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Belo’s emphatic dunk at the 9:01 mark not only gave him over 1,500 career points, but also snap the scoreless drought. He now ranks eighth all-time at MSU with 1,501 career points. Yet this would be the final highlight of the game, as the Wildcats rattled off a 10-0 run to lead 63-49 with 5:54 to go.
The Bobcats would make things interesting by putting on a full-court press, getting four-straight points from Osobor and pulling within six points off a three from Robert Ford III with 1:53 to go. But they had two empty possessions and needed to foul WSU to stay in the game, which led to a 73-63 final score.
Dillon Jones picked up another double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, while teammate Steven Verplancken had 17 points. Thursday’s game snapped a five-game win streak for the Bobcats.
Up next, Montana State travels to Pocatello, Idaho to take on Idaho State on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. All Big Sky Conference games will be live streamed on ESPN+.