(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
CHENEY, Wash.—Montana State came back from a double-digit deficit and held a lead late in the second half, but Eastern Washington forced overtime and eventually claimed an 88-86 victory over the Bobcats on Thursday at Reese Court.
MSU's 11-game winning streak, its longest since the 1994-95 season, came to an end with the loss to Eastern Washington. The Bobcats dropped to 20-6 overall and 12-3 in Big Sky play. EWU improved to 14-12 (8-7).
Eastern Washington held an 11-point lead during the first half but MSU battled back to tie the contest up at 36 with 1 minute, 24 seconds remaining. The Bobcats eventually went into the break trailing the Eagles 41-38.
The two teams went back-and-forth in the second half and the Bobcats held their largest advantage of seven in the game twice. MSU's 74-67 edge came after an Amin Adamu layup with 2:49 left and the Eags were forced to call timeout. EWU didn't go away as the Eagles scored the half's final seven points and pushed the contest into overtime.
Steele Venters put to the Eagles ahead to open the overtime period and the Eagles never trailed in the extra five minutes of play. They led 86-82 in the final minute of overtime, but a RaeQuan Battle three-pointer and resulting foul gave him four-point play to tie it up at 86 with 22 seconds remaining.
The next possession saw Rylan Bergersen hit a step-back jumper for the Eagles with five seconds left to put the home side again back up by two. MSU had a final possession with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, but the Bobcats' inbounds pass and shot that fell through the basket was waved off.
"Tough way to lose," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. "The guys battled, I'm proud of the fight. It looked dire at times, but we gave ourselves a chance to win the game, especially at the end of regulation. It shouldn't have got to that, we needed to get some stops and we didn't get them. We had a five-point lead and we had two bad turnovers."
Eastern Washington outshot Montana State 51.6-45.5% from the field, but MSU stayed in it by connecting on 10 3-pointers. Four Bobcats scored in double digits in Jubrile Belo (19), Adamu (16), Battle (16) and Xavier Bishop (13). Belo had five assists for MSU while Adamu had seven rebounds.
EWU's Linton Acliese scored a career-high 38 points to pace the Eagles on the offensive end while Venters also had 19. Angelo Allegri had nine rebounds as well.
Montana State returns to action on Saturday. The Bobcats fly to Cedar City next to face Southern Utah at 2 p.m. in the America First Event Center.