Men’s basketball cruises to a 106-64 win over Warner Pacific

BOZEMAN, Mont. — On a night when the Montana State men’s basketball team unveiled its 2021-22 Big Sky Championship banner, all 12 players who qualified for the Bobcats scored to help the Bobcats, Warner Pacific said Friday night to beat 106:64.

The Bobcats (2-2) surpassed 100 points for the third straight season with the win. Warner Pacific’s record (2-2) is unchanged as the Knights viewed it as a spectacle.

Leading wire to wire, Montana State held off an offense by Warner Pacific, who shot 42.1% from three in the first half. The Knights got 24 of their 34 points in the first half in threes but couldn’t close the Bobcats’ size advantage early on with Jubrile Belo (23 points, eight rebounds) and Sam Lecholat (12 points, seven rebounds).

“Belo played well tonight and was aggressive,” said the Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. “He’s had a couple of tough games because he’s played against a lot of good bigs but it was good that he had shots to drop tonight.”

A total of five Bobcats had double-digit points: Belo, Lecholat, Jed Miller (14 points, eight rebounds, five assists), Patrick McMahon (12 points), and Alex Germer (10 points), with the latter four having career-bests. The Bobcats shot season-bests of 54.4% from the field and 37.5% from three.

Fueled by five early points from Belo, MSU started the game on a 7-0 run and never looked back. Warner Pacific tried to last by hitting his first two threes, but Lecholat responded with a three to help the Bobcats take a 12-8 lead at the first media timeout.

Eventual Warner Pacific leading scorer Isaac Etter (19 points) kept the Knights in the ballgame with three deep threes, but MSU got a boost off their bench with three straight field goals from Patrick McMahon to defeat the Bobcats 21-11 to lead. A layup by Belo at the 8-10 mark gave Montana State a double-digit lead it wouldn’t give up until 3:28 remained in the first half.

RaeQuan Battle and Belo threw big dunks out of the U8 media timeout that helped MSU extend their lead. The pace picked up in the last four minutes of the half and Warner Pacific cut the Bobcats’ lead to nine, 35-26. Baskets from Robert Ford III, Luca Colceag, and three free throws late in the first half helped MSU go into the dressing room with a 46-34 lead at halftime.

“I was glad our guys were running outside of time-outs,” Sprinkle said. “We need to get better at that, but I thought we played really well tonight.”

Belo started with a 6-0 personal run to open the second half and gave him his first 20-point game of the year. A batch of dunks from Belo and Battle helped the Bobcats pass the Knights before Sprinkle spun onto the bench to finish the job.

Jed Miller found Battle for a fast break alley oop that highlighted a 9-0 run that helped take MSU to 65-41. MSU would lead by more than 25 points from that point. Miller made four of his six three-pointers, Tyler Patterson sank consecutive three-pointers, then Alex Germer took the Bobcats to the 3:58 mark over the century mark with two free throws to make it a 100-59 ball game.

Friday night’s game had a number of firsts for the Bobcats. Freshmen Miller, Luca Colceag and Alex Germer all scored their first college points, while Carter Ash’s late three-pointer was his first field goal of the season.

“Carter is one of the hardest workers we have,” Sprinkle said. “He’s such a great kid. everyone loves him If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love Carter, let me know. It’s always great to see your hard work pay off.”

Additionally, Ford III made his first career start in a Montana State uniform. The Idaho State transfer ended with nine points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes of work.

“Ford III must continue to be aggressive and be an excellent defender,” Sprinkle said. “I know he can be that for us; he can change our team defensively.”

The Bobcats will head east Sunday at 12 p.m. MT to play in North Dakota. The game will be broadcast on AND Insider.