(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
GREELEY, Colo. -- Amin Adamu scored a career-high 36 points and Montana State completed a second-half comeback by defeating Northern Colorado in overtime, 76-74, in Bank of Colorado Arena Saturday. The Bobcats' two victories over the Bears to begin their Big Sky slate was their first regular season sweep against Northern Colorado since 2007.
Montana State (5-3, 2-0 BSC) trailed by as many as 13 in the second half but continued to battle over the contest's final 20 minutes. The Bobcats slowly trimmed the deficit and were down 46-42 with 14 minutes, 28 seconds remaining. Northern Colorado pushed the lead back into double digits before Montana State made its move
The Bobcats used a 13-0 run over a four-minute span to jump out to a 57-55 lead with 5:48 to go. The two teams traded baskets before an Xavier Bishop layup with 3:36 on the clock gave MSU a two-possession lead at 64-60.
MSU held two separate five-point leads, but Northern Colorado continued to battle. Matt Johnson hit a jumper with over a minute left to make it 68-65. The Bobcats had an opportunity to go again go up by two scores with 18 seconds left following a Jubrile Belo defensive rebound. His ensuing missed free throws set up the Bears' Tre'Shon Smoots who connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 68 with four seconds remaining.
Mike Hood's 3-point attempt for the Bobcats on the inbound pass fell short and the game went to overtime.
Bishop gave the Bobcats the opening lead in the extra five minutes of play by hitting a jumper just 18 seconds into the overtime period. The contest led into another tie at 74 with 2:19 left, but Adamu capped his career day with his final field goal at the 1:58 mark to make it 76-74.
Both teams had two empty possessions to set up Northern Colorado for a chance to tie or win the game with 21 seconds remaining. The Bears had three opportunities to convert, but missed shots by Rodrick McCobb, Bodie Hume and Matt Johnson eventually ran out the clock.
Montana State improved to 2-0 in Big Sky action, the third time in the previous four seasons the 'Cats have opened league play with two wins. The Bears fell to 5-6 overall and 2-4 against Big Sky opponents.
Adamu's 36 points for the Bobcats is one of the top 20 single-game marks in program history. He also led MSU with nine rebounds. Bishop completed a strong weekend recording 22 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
"Once again like the other night, our senior leadership was great and guys kept making plays," said Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle. "The verbiage in the huddle was the exact same as (Thursday). Amin and Xavier were terrific today.
"(Amin) played really well down here last year. The game has slowed down a bit for him and he's accepted coaching. Once he trusted us, he's really gotten better. He's a terrific athlete and he's a better shooter than people think he is. He was tremendous. He and Xavier were two of the big reasons why we won the game."
Senior Devin Kirby contributed off the bench playing a season-high 26 minutes. He registered four points and five rebounds for MSU. Abdul Mohamed, who matched up against Nothern Colorado's Bodie Hume for most of the game holding him to 4-for-14 shooting, played 31 minutes and corralled eight rebounds.
The Bobcats rebounded from a slow first half by shooting 54.2% in the final 20 minutes of regulation. MSU outshot UNC overall 43.1-41.1% despite going just 4 of 25 from 3-point range. MSU also won the rebounding margin 40-34 and committed just eight turnovers to the Bears' 11.
Northern Colorado had its best output on the free throw line of the season by going 19-for-22 (86.4%). Johnson led the Bears with 21 points. He was joined in double digits by Hume (14), Greg Bowie II (12) and Kur Jokich (12).
Montana State returns to Bozeman for its next Big Sky Conference series. The Bobcats open their back-to-back contests versus Portland State Thursday at 7 p.m. in Worthington Arena.