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The Big Sky Conference opener for the Montana State and Northern Colorado men’s basketball teams came down to overtime where the Bears eventually completed a 77-75 victory over the Bobcats on Thursday at Bank of Colorado Arena in Greeley, Colorado.

The two sides struggled offensively in the first half with each team shooting under 35% from the field. Northern Colorado held a two-point lead at the break and extended its advantage to 39-32 just three minutes into the second half on a Bodie Hume dunk.

Montana State responded. The ‘Cats followed with a 13-2 run of their own, with six points coming from Jubrile Belo, to put MSU up 45-41 after a nearly four-minute scoring spree. The Bobcats held a lead for almost 10 minutes before the Bears tied the score at 57 with 3:28 remaining.

Northern Colorado jumped out a 62-61 edge with 1:14 left following a Hume 3-pointer. MSU tied the score at 62 when Belo hit one of two free throws, then after a missed jumper by the Bears, Belo came back to convert on a layup under the rim with 17 seconds to go to put the Bobcats up by two points.

The ensuing possession saw the Bears drive the line with Daylen Kountz going up for a contested layup. His shot wouldn’t fall in, but the resulting putback by Kor Jongkuch tied the score and sent the game to overtime.

The extra five minutes was all Northern Colorado to start as the Bears scored the first nine of 11 points between the two squads in the period. UNC had a seven-point advantage whittled down to 3 with 20 seconds remaining, but two free throws by the Bears late eventually sealed the win for the home side. The Bears were 5 of 6 from the field in the overtime frame while MSU went just 4 for 11.

All five Bobcats starters scored in double digits, led by Xavier Bishop’s 17 points. Amin Adamu, Jubrile Belo and Tyler Patterson each shot over 50% for the ‘Cats and scored 12, 13 and 12 points, respectively. Abdul Mohamed had a team-high 11 rebounds to go with his 10 points. MSU fell to 4-4 overall in the loss.

Northern Colorado was led by Kountz’s 21 points while Jongkuch and Matt Johnson each had 14 points. The Bears improved to 4-5 overall.

“It was a game that had two teams that competed their butts off,” Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. “You can’t win on the road when you have that many breakdowns defensively. We have to get better at that. The last couple of games it’s happened and we’ve gotten away with it, but against a good team you won’t. We made it too easy for them late in the game.”

Montana State returns to action at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Sacramento State.

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