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Montana State bounces back in Moscow, splits series against Idaho

Amin Adamu
Posted at 4:13 PM, Feb 28, 2021

(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)

MOSCOW, Idaho -- The Montana State men's basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday as the Bobcats topped Idaho 71-61 in Memorial Gym. MSU improved to 10-8 overall and 7-5 in Big Sky play with the victory.

MSU and Idaho (1-20, 1-17) played a close first half with the Bobcats taking the largest lead of the opening period of four on four occasions. Amin Adamu hit a jumper and tallied his 12th point to ensure the Bobcats went into halftime with a 32-30 advantage.

The Vandals came out of the break by connecting on their first shot on the opening possession of the half. The game swung the Bobcats' way from there.

Xavier Bishop drained two 3-pointers, Amin Adamu scored five points and Abdul Mohamed made two shots in the paint to lead MSU on a 15-0 scoring run to jump out to a 47-32 edge. Idaho would go without a point for over five minutes as the Bobcats increased their lead to 15.

Idaho didn't go away immediately as the Vandals cut the deficit to five on a DeAndre Robinson jumper. His made field goal at the 9:37 mark of the second half made it a 54-49 contest. But MSU responded by scoring the next four points and Idaho was never able to get the margin back within seven again.

"I thought our energy was tremendous today," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. "Amin was great all game. He really gave us some confidence and he was aggressive. He's hard to guard when he's playing like that.

"I thought Abdul was terrific in the (second half). He got some second chance points, He had some big rebounds, he really provided a spark for us."

Adamu led Montana State in the scoring column with 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting while Mohamed was 5 of 7 from the field for 11 points. The duo had a team-high seven rebounds apiece.

Bishop had 14 points, Jubrile Belo recorded 11, while Kellen Tynes, Borja Fernandez, Caleb Bellach and Finn Fleute all scored points for MSU as the Bobcats utilized all 13 players that traveled in the contest.

After an 0-for-12 outing on Friday from 3-point range, MSU connected on four Sunday. That included Bellach's made 3-pointer in the first half that ended a streak of 17 misses for the Bobcats over the weekend series in Moscow.

"I said to everybody that everyone will play," Sprinkle told the team prior to Sunday's matchup. "Caleb had a huge three to get us going, he was ready, it was all hands on deck today. That's what it took.

"People can look at (Idaho's) record, but they're way better than their record. I thought they played well the last two days. It took all 40 minutes today to win it."

Montana State finished the contest with a 55.3% clip from the field including a 61.9% mark in the second half. The Bobcats held the Vandals to just 42.9% shooting in the second half.

The Bobcats forced 16 turnovers with 11 resulting in steals. Adamu led MSU with four of those followed by Tynes with three.

Tanner Christensen (12) and Gabe Quinnett (10) were the lone Vandals that scored in double digits. Robinson finished with nine points and had a team-high seven rebounds for the Vandals.

Following Idaho's first victory of the season on Friday, the Bobcats had a losing streak extend to five games after opening Big Sky action with six straight victories. MSU ended its five-game skid with two games remaining on their regular season schedule.

"We had a great team meeting (on Saturday) and I just had someone tell me this is the veterans' team," Sprinkle said. "I told the seniors you've got to take ownership, this is your team, you're in charge, we're going to go as far as you guys take us. I really just wanted to give the seniors the ownership, it's their time."

Montana State returns to Bozeman to host the final two games of the Big Sky Conference slate. The Bobcats are scheduled to play Sacramento State at 6 p.m. on Thursday and 11 a.m. on Saturday.