In a highly-anticipated battle between Big Sky’s top two teams, Montana State University claimed a 78–57 victory over Weber State University on Feb. 5.
WSU was coming off an eight-game wining streak after closing an 80–75 win against the University of Montana on Feb. 3. MSU had traveled to Ogden with a seven-game winning streak on the line after they squeaked out a 70–64 victory over the University of Idaho on Jan. 29.
Earlier this season, both teams clashed in Bozeman on Dec. 30, and the Wildcats came out on top as they won 85–75. WSU has an all-time record of 88–41 against the Bobcats that stretches back to 1964.
A defensive gridlock paired with poor shot selection made it difficult for both teams to drive into the paint as WSU shot just 10 for 28 from the field.
Montana State was up 12–7 with 13:33 left in the first half before Wildcat freshman forward Dyson Koehler grabbed a quick 4 points with a layup and two free-throws, leaving WSU down 22–19.
At the halftime buzzer, the Wildcats were still down 37–29.
In the second half, the Bobcats scored two 3-pointers in one minute, leading to a 13–7 Bobcat run, bringing the gap to 50–36.
As Wildcat fans hoped for a potential comeback after junior forward Zahir Porter scored a 3-pointer, MSU forward/guard Abdul Mohamed sank a 3-pointer of his own at 12:17 to extend Montana State’s lead to 58–44.
At 10:24 WSU had a scare when senior center Dontay Bassett was accidentally kneed in the head by Porter when Bassett fell from guarding Montana State forward Great Osobor.
At 6:58, Weber State senior guard Koby McEwen fouled Bishop at half-court and both began to argue before they both received technical fouls.
Montana State ran away with the game after the confrontation with a 19–5 run by the Bobcats which gave them a 74–50 lead with 4:25 left in the game.
Weber State never recovered and Montana State snapped Weber State’s eight-game winning streak as the Bobcats won 78–57.
This was the sixth game in 12 days for the Wildcats, and head coach Randy Rahe said that the team was fatigued after grinding through a congested schedule.
“They played great; they had a week off and they were fresh,” Rahe said. “I think everyone saw what we did tonight. We had no juice. The schedule caught up with us. Our kids had their heart in the right place and I was proud of the team, but they were a lot quicker than us tonight.”
WSU sophomore guard Seikou Sisoho Jawara led the team with 14 points and McEwen and Porter both had 11. Freshman forward Dillon Jones had 3 assists along with 11 rebounds.
“I don’t think they are 20 points better than us,” WSU senior guard JJ Overton said. “It is just a bump in the road. If it isn’t followed up by multiple losses, I think we will be okay.”
Even after the tough loss, the Wildcats remain first place in the Big Sky, but Montana State is right behind them with two games in hand.
“It will be good to heal up, refocus and get a few days of practice until we head down to Eastern Washington,” Overton said. “Sharpen up our skills and try to get on another roll again.”