CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Thunderbird men’s basketball team dropped a close contest on the road Thursday evening, falling to the Bobcats of Montana State 73-65.
With the loss the T-Birds will head into their final regular season contest with a 15-15 overall record, and a 8-11 mark in the Big Sky Conference.
After the T-Birds claimed the first basket of the game, the Bobcats got out to a 7-0 run due to Southern Utah starting the contest 1-of-8 from the field. MSU led 7-2 at the first media time out, with the T-Birds going over four minutes without a point.
By the time the next media timeout was called, the Thunderbirds had tied up the contest thanks to a three-pointer by Dre Marin. The score was knotted at 9-9 with 11:03 to play in the opening frame.
The following five minutes swung momentum to the Bobcats, as they scored 11 points in a hurry to lead the game 20-14 with 6:04 left in the first half.
The Bobcats were able to maintain a similar pace through the remainder of the opening half, taking a 30-22 advantage into the halftime break.
SUU shot just 7-of-23 from the field in the opening half, and coughed the ball up eight times resulting in nine points for Montana State.
The Bobcats carried their momentum into the second half, jumping out to an 8-0 run to up their lead to 38-22 and forcing the T-Birds to call timeout.
MSU built their lead to as many as 17, but the Thunderbirds didn’t go away. They used a number of runs to climb back in the contest, including a big 8-0 sprint that cut the Bobcat lead to 56-51 with just under eight minutes to play.
“We just got a little out of sorts, but once we started making shots we were able to set up our press, and once we were able to do that we were much more effective,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said.
The T-Birds got within two points on two separate occasions down the stretch of the contest, but we’re never able to pull all the way back ahead or force a tie.
Leading by three with 37 seconds on the clock, MSU’s Harald Frey hit a dagger three-point jumper to put the Bobcats up six and seemingly closed out the contest.
Down the stretch the T-Birds held the Bobcats without a field goal for over eight minutes of game time, but MSU was able to get the necessary makes from the free throw line, finishing the game 21-of-31 from said charity stripe.
“We just put them on the line too often,” Simon said. “You can’t foul in a game like that and we gave them too many free points at the line.”
Marin, Dwayne Morgan and Cameron Oluyitan carried the scoring load for the T-Birds, with Marin and Morgan accounting for 15 points each, and Oluyitan dropping in 14.
Maizen Fausett led the team’s rebounding effort with seven, while Oluyitan pulled down six.
The Thunderbirds ended up shooting 42 percent from the field, and knocked down nine three-pointers over the 40 minutes of competition.
The Bobcats outscored SUU in the paint 26-14, and scored 19 points off of SUU’s 14 turnovers. The T-Birds forced MSU into 12 turnovers, getting 10 points for themselves.
For the Bobcats, Jubrile Belo finished with a double-double, scoring 25 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He finished the game 13-of-16 from the free throw line. Frey finished with 22 on 7-of-10 shooting.
Southern Utah will wrap up their regular season slate this Saturday, as they visit Missoula and the Grizzlies of Montana.
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Photo and story by SUU Athletics