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The deciding factor in Saturday night’s edition of the Brawl of the Wild showed up on Montana’s first offensive possession.

It showed up in the final 4 minutes, 36 seconds, too, much like it did throughout UM’s 80-72 win in front of 5,407, the largest Worthington Arena crowd in four years.

It was about the only word MSU head coach Brian Fish could conjure in the moments following the Bobcats’ 11th consecutive loss to their rivals.

“It all points to toughness, toughness, toughness,” Fish lamented. “It all points there. I don’t where to go anywhere else.”

The Grizzlies (13-7 overall, 8-1 Big Sky) pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, posted a 16-3 advantage in second-chance points and received 12 points in the final 10:35 from precocious freshman guard Michael Oguine.

That included a reverse layup and 3-pointer from the right corner that staked his team to a six-point lead with 49 seconds remaining.

“He asked for the ball,” UM head coach Travis DeCuire said. “It’s not typical, especially at this level when you get freshmen that are ready to perform on that stage. We’re fortunate to have him in our program.”

Grizzlies senior Martin Breunig was relatively quiet and battled foul trouble on a night where the teams combined for 50 infractions. DeCuire took a timeout with 1:35 remaining and his team leading 70-67 after MSU wing Quinton Everett missed a 3-pointer. Despite a guard-dominated game, it was clear the UM would look for its post stalwart.

“No question about it,” DeCuire said. “He’s the reason we’re here, and I think some of our success is because we play through the post. He’s a key guy, and I knew if he could get both feet in the paint he was going to make a shot for us.”

It came as part of a closing stretch in which the visitors made their final five field goal attempts over 4:36, while MSU (9-12, 4-5) connected on just 1 of 9.

“Our defense won that game for us,” DeCuire said. “We just figured out how to get a rebound and a stop, and our offense kicked in after that.”

The combination of Oguine and point guard Walter Wright certainly had something to do with it, as well.

Wright finished with 24 points and a game-high 10 rebounds and regularly penetrated. He made 12 of 13 free throws as part of UM’s 25-of-33 effort. MSU finished 14 of 18.

“We definitely took it as a challenge,” Wright said. “Tyler Hall and (Marcus) Colbert are two very good players — Hall in particular. He’s not just a good freshmen, he’s one of the best players in the league, and he’s going to be a star in the league.”

Much of the first half became about managing minutes for players in foul trouble on both sides.

Oguine and MSU’s Zach Green picked up their second fouls before the midway point of the half, but the most significant calls came minutes later.

Breunig was whistled for an offensive foul with the Grizzlies trailing 23-20 at the 7:55 mark. The Bobcats squandered that opportunity to extend the lead in the latter stages of a 37-34 first half — they did stretch it to seven at one point — largely because Hall’s second came just 26 seconds later.

“That was huge,” Colbert said. “(Breunig’s) out of the game, that’s our time when we have to extend the lead and we didn’t do it. In that stretch I can count four or five offensive rebounds that they got. … That can’t happen when he’s their best rebounder.”

With two of UM’s scoring options relegated to the bench — Breunig sat the final 7:55 of the half and Oguine the last 12:19 — Wright took over. The explosive point guard attacked off the dribble and several MSU defenders struggled to stay in front of him.

“We got into halftime up three, and I told the guys, ‘Hey, this is fraudulent right here. The stats don’t support the lead and we have to change how we’re playing,’” Fish said. “We just couldn’t get that relayed or bought in to get it done.”

MSU used an 8-0 run to lead 51-43 with 12:30 remaining, but UM responded with an 11-2 spurt over 3:15. The Bobcats shot just 36 percent in the second half, including 9 of 26 from Colbert and Hall.

MSU had just five assists overall, while the Grizzlies made better than 54 percent and 18 of 21 free throws after halftime.

“There’s three things you look at as toughness plays; one is rebounding, one’s going to the line … and the third thing is second-chance points,” said Fish, who expressed concern at giving up an offensive board and put-back by Oguine on the very first possession of the game. “They dominated all three of those.

“We haven’t whipped like that on the boards and toughness-wise. It’s something I haven’t had to worry about with this group, and this was just one of those nights.”

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Parker Gabriel can be reached at or 582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @pgabriel15.

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