BOZEMAN, Mont. — Weber State made it out of town before the freezing rain that snarled traffic and airports back home in Utah, but the Wildcats still hit an icy patch in the Big Sky Conference race.
Montana State, which just missed knocking off in-state rival and league leader Montana last week, didn’t make the same mistake Thursday, upsetting Weber State 79-74 at Worthington Arena to end WSU’s nine-game winning streak.
The Bobcats (8-9, 5-4 Big Sky) handed the Wildcats (13-4, 8-1) their first league loss behind four players in double digits, including 18 points each from Xavier Blount and Antonio Biglow.
While Big Sky observers had been looking forward to a contest between Weber State and Montana as potential unbeaten league teams, Montana State had other ideas.
Biglow, a juco transfer who began the season as a starting guard for Montana State but was suspended for several games, came off the bench to make his first major contribution for the Bobcats since being reinstated Jan. 15.
Christian Moon had 16 points and Paul Egwuonu had 10 points and 10 rebounds as Montana State rewarded its 2,608 fans at Worthington Arena, its largest home crowd of the season.
Junior forward Davion Berry hit 6 of 8 from beyond the 3-point line and finished with 24 points to lead Weber State, while senior shooting guard Scott Bamforth added 14 points and junior center Kyle Tresnak had 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats outshot the Bobcats from the field, 50.0 percent to 44.6 percent, but Montana State, the Big Sky leader in turnover margin, played to its strength, converting 16 WSU turnovers into 19 points while only turning the ball over seven times.
While Berry buried deep 3 after deep 3 late in the game to keep a slight flicker of hope alive for Weber State, MSU kept its composure and hit 14 free throws in a row down the stretch and 24 of 29 from the line overall.
“I thought we played a real complete game; that’s a high quality team. Our guys were up to the task. We sustained the effort for 40 minutes and hitting all those free throws at the end has become a trait of ours that was nice to see,” Bobcats coach Brad Huse said. “Those guys have confidence in the moment and the situation. Not only making the free throws but Marcus (Colbert) being patient on the inbounds and getting it to the guys so Weber State had to foul.”
Weber State coach Randy Rahe gave Montana State full credit for the win.
“I thought (the Bobcats were) terrific,” he said. “They played an excellent ballgame. They’ve been playing really well, their best basketball of the year.”
The Bobcats have won six of their last eight games.
“The second half, we didn’t rebound as well as we usually do,” Rahe said. “We got outrebounded by 10 in the second half and we turned the ball over 10 times in the second half. You just can’t do that against a quality team on their court,” Rahe said. “They took advantage of it.”
Rahe said the Wildcats were not surprised by Biglow’s contribution for the Bobcats.
“I watched him in the preseason and he’s a highly talented kid,” he said. “We talked a lot about him as being a very good player. He’d been suspended and hadn’t got his rhythm back, but he got it back (Thursday).”
Weber State senior forward Frank “Mook” Otis was ejected with about three minutes to go during the game after leaving the bench during a verbal altercation and finished with eight points and six rebounds.The administrative ejection does not affect Otis’ ability to play against Montana on Saturday in Missoula.