CollegeMontana State Bobcats


Brandon Walker, Montana State men get impressive win at Pac-12 California

Brandon Walker
Posted at 10:57 AM, Nov 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-17 12:57:31-05

(Editor's note: Montana State University news release)

BERKELEY, Calif. — Behind 26 points from sophomore Brandon Walker, Montana State secured the first signature win of the Matt Logie era in dramatic fashion on Thursday night, taking down California, 63-60, at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California.

The first Division I victory for first-year head coach Matt Logie marked the first win for the Cats over a Power Five opponent since they took down Washington State on December 9, 2018.

It's also the first road win over a Power Five foe since defeating Utah in Salt Lake City in 2011.

The Bobcats (2-1) built up a 14-point lead in the second half but saw Cal (2-2) erase the advantage down to a 57-56 Cat lead with 2:34 left in the game.

Big buckets down the stretch from Walker, along with a clutch three-pointer from Sam Lecholat and huge free throws from Brian Goracke and Jed Miller, sealed the win for the Bobcats as a game-tying heave from Cal went off the mark at the horn.

Montana State shot just 17% from beyond the arc (4-for-24) and was out-rebounded 39-25, but won the turnover battle, 16-8, and led for over 37 minutes in the convincing win.

"This group has been resilient from day one when we got here," head coach Matt Logie said. "It all comes down to attitude, which is what we say in every huddle, and that allows us to handle adversity together and keep fighting when things get tough."

Walker was nearly unstoppable on the way to a career-high 26 points. The sophomore transfer from UT Arlington poured in 14 in the first half and 12 more in the second half on 12-of-21 shooting for the game, adding three rebounds, four assists, and a crucial block in the final two minutes.

"Brandon showed what he's capable of tonight," Logie said, "He has such a unique skillset and did a great job attacking the paint for us all night long."

Patrick McMahon reached double-figures for the third straight game to open the season, chipping in ten in his first start of the year. Brian Goracke added eight, and Miller and Lecholat each contributed six points off the bench.

Robert Ford III collected a team-high nine rebounds in the win.

Walker's 14 in the first half came as the big man showed no hesitation in attacking the rim, backing down his defender in the post and using a variety of moves and footwork to get tough looks to go down inside.

McMahon added eight in the opening frame, including three field goals in the last nine minutes to help Montana State stake out a 33-27 advantage at halftime.

The Bobcats began to separate themselves from the jump in the second half, rattling off an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the game at 44-30 with 15:09 left to play.

A Walker layup was followed by a Walker triple, then Goracke found a crease for a layup before Walker went back to work for back-to-back buckets, scoring eight of the Bobcats' 11 points in the mini-spurt to build the cushion.

The Golden Bears began to chip away, cutting it to an eight-point Bobcat lead before Tyler Patterson nailed a three to push the MSU advantage back out to 47-36 with 12:26 to go.

Cal kept coming, going to Jaylon Tyson down the stretch to pull them within two at 51-49 with 4:49 in the game. Tyson would finish with a game-high 27 points and eight rebounds.

Lecholat stepped out beyond the arc and caught a kickout feed from Miller with 3:19 to play, calmly knocking down a huge three to put Montana State in front, 57-51.

From there, big defensive stops as the Cats locked in helped propel the visitors forward in a hostile environment on the road, with a Walker block helping seal a possession.

Goracke and Miller combined to go 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the final 1:20, putting the game on ice and leading to jubilation from the Bobcat bench.

"It goes to show what we can accomplish together in the Bobcat basketball family," Logie said. "Even in the midst of great change and adversity, this program is built to last and these kids are fighting for that every day. The best is yet to come."