(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
BOZEMAN — Jubrile Belo’s 20th career double-double came exactly when he and his Montana State teammates needed it, leading the Bobcats to a 91-78 win over Portland State on Saturday in Belo’s final career game in Worthington Arena.
MSU’s 6-9 senior scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to pace the Cats, who scored 32 of their 91 points on Saturday from the free throw line. PSU scored 23 of its 78 points from the stripe. The teams combined for 55 fouls, 33 whistled on Portland State.
“They’re a physical team,” MSU head coach Danny Sprinkle said of PSU. “They play hard, they scrap, that’s the one thing you’re always going to get from Portland State, they’re going to play hard. I thought our guys did a really good job, especially early, of (matching the physicality). They played us straight up in the post and we wanted to take advantage of that.”
The Vikings jumped out to a 13-8 lead in the game’s first five-and-a-half minutes, and held that until a Darius Brown free throw at 10:41 tied the game at 18-18. That came in the middle of a 10-0 Bobcat run, but Portland State jumped back in front on the strength of an 11-0 run to take a 29-24 advantage with 8:54 to play in the first half. The Cats answered with eight straight points, and the back-and-forth first half ended with MSU holding a 43-42 edge.
“We were lucky to be leading by one at halftime,” Sprinkle said.
The game’s turning point came near the middle of the second half, with a Bobcat defensive adjustment. “I thought going to the 1-3-1 (zone) bailed us out in the second half,” Sprinkle said. “We went on a 17-2 run and we needed that because it was really hard to control (Cameron) Parker. We got some steals, we got some dunks, got the crowd going and it got our guys’ energy going. We finally got them to miss a couple of shots.”
Holding a narrow 62-57 lead, Belo initiated that run with dunk that ignited the crowd. He then made a pair of free throws, Great Osobor hit a layup, RaeQuan Battle made a layup, and the lead was 71-57. The Vikings never cut the lead to single digits again.
The strong individual efforts by Belo and Battle, who scored 20 points for the Bobcats, offset a brilliant performance by Portland State’s Cameron Parker. He poured in 26 points with four assists, making 13 of his 15 free throws. Jorell Saterfield scored 12 points and Keshaun Saunders 10 for the Vikings. Osobor (14 points, eight rebounds) and Darius Brown II (14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) also shined for the Bobcats.
The win boosts MSU’s record to 21-9 on the season, 14-3 in Big Sky play, as the team heads for its regular season finale at Eastern Washington on Monday. The Eagles clinched the regular season league title on Thursday, while MSU has second place wrapped up. Portland State is now 12-17 overall, 6-10 in Big Sky play.