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Montana State blows halftime lead, falls to Portland in final seconds

Danny Sprinkle
Posted at 4:42 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 10:37:59-05

(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Montana State had an opportunity to take a lead with just seconds remaining, but Portland made the most of a second-half rally to defeat the Bobcats, 62-59, at the Chiles Center on Tuesday.

Portland whittled away at a 32-22 halftime deficit and eventually took a 51-50 lead with 6 minutes, 15 seconds on the clock. MSU trailed 60-56 before cutting into the Pilots' lead. A Xavier Bishop layup and Jubrile Belo dunk cut Portland's edge to 60-59 with 49 seconds to go.

The Bobcats forced a turnover with 34 seconds left and called a timeout for their ensuing possession. MSU ran down the shot clock and Bishop was unable to convert on a contested attempt under the hoop. Portland completed its comeback with two free throws by Latrell Jones with less than two seconds remaining to put the game away.

Montana State (2-3) jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half – and led by as many as 13 – by holding Portland (6-2) to just 7 of 26 (26.9%) shooting in the opening 20 minutes. Amin Adamu had 13 points and Abdul Mohamed had seven to pace MSU in the early going.

The Pilots were worse from the field (36.7-32.7%) and from deep (30.0-16.7%) during the contest, but took advantage of their opportunities from the free throw line. Portland went 25-for-26 (96.2%) from the charity stripe while the Bobcats made just 9 of 13 (69.2%) attempts. Portland also finished with a 42-31 edge on the boards.

"They ratcheted up the pressure and we didn't handle it very well," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said of Portland in the second half. "They only made three 3's (in the game), and we still held them to 32% from the field, but the free throw line killed us. In the second half we didn't step up and make free throws and it cost us. We had 17 turnovers, we were sloppy. Our offense is going to continue to be a work in progress, but we've got a long ways to go."

Bishop scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half for the Bobcats and went 7-for-15 from the field overall. Mohamed played 29 minutes off the bench and had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Eddie Davis led a trio of Pilots in double figures with 19 points while he also had 10 rebounds. Jones followed him with 10 points and nine rebounds. Hayden Crutiss came off the bench for Portland to contribute with six blocks.

Montana State makes its Big Sky Conference debut on New Year's Eve when the Bobcats host Southern Utah. MSU and Southern Utah are slated to tipoff at 2:30 p.m. with the game available on SWX Montana, Pluto TV as well as the Bobcat Sports Radio Network.