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MISSOULA — Montana State took Martin Breunig out of his offensive rhythm from the outset Saturday evening.

Walter Wright, too.

Despite slowing UM’s dynamic inside-outside combination, the Bobcats couldn’t stop freshman Michael Oguine from getting to the basket and couldn’t keep Brandon Gfeller from finding open looks when the defense turned its attention elsewhere.

The duo combined for 51 points as the Grizzlies won their 12th consecutive Brawl of the Wild, 87-78.

“Let’s just cut to the chase: Montana and Weber (State) are the two teams in this league that are a little bit better than everybody else,” MSU head coach Brian Fish admitted.

In addition to one of the best teams in the Big Sky, two of the league’s premier freshman showcased their abilities in front of 6,522 packed into Dahlberg Arena.

Oguine scored a career-best 27, including 15 in the final 7 minutes, 32 seconds of the first half. Ten came after Breunig picked up his second foul and had to spend several minutes on the bench.

Instead of falling further behind than 29-25, however, UM mounted a 16-5 run and led by seven at the half.

“I’d never take anything away from Tyler Hall — he’s a really good basketball player and he’s going to score a lot of points at Montana State,” UM head coach Travis DeCuire said. “I think (Oguine)’s role is different. Mike knows he’s not going to get 20 shots a night, and we’re not calling a play for him out of every huddle. He doesn’t know where his shots are going to come from, and by the way, he’s going to guard the best player on the other team.”

For MSU that’s Hall, who scored 20 of his game-high 30 in the second half as the two teenagers traded blows.

At the same time, fouls also piled up on both sides. The teams were whistled a combined 36 times in the second half and 55 total.

The Grizzlies finished plus-15 at the free throw line, making 30 of 42, while the Bobcats connected on 15 of 22. Oguine made 12 of 14, many of which came after he put his head down and drove to the basket.

Hall picked up his fourth foul with 8:41 remaining — his second in a 15-second span — and MSU trailing 64-59.

“You’re on the road so you know some things aren’t going to go your way between crowds and things like that so you have to fight it,” Fish said of the grinding pace. “I thought our guys fought really hard in the second half. I thought we played pretty well and got after it. … Every time there was a big possession, we fouled them and put them on the line.”

Added MSU senior point guard Marcus Colbert, “It was hard to get into a flow.”

Gfeller finished one point shy of his career best with 23. Two of his five 3-pointers came to open the second half and extend UM’s lead to 13.

MSU responded with a 17-5 spurt that included nine from Hall and saw the Bobcats cut a 49-36 deficit to one with 12:41 remaining.

The visitors just could never get over the hump. MSU led or was tied for a span of 13:07 in the first half, but once the Grizzlies reclaimed the lead — on four points for Oguine, of course — they never surrendered it.

“It came down to stops,” Colbert said. “We did get a lot of stops and they shot a lot of free throws. You can’t guard them at the line, and they knocked them down.”

MSU forced turnovers on three of UM’s first four possessions, flustered Bruenig, who averaged 27 over his past three games, and led by as many as eight in the early going thanks to an aggressive defense.

“I thought in the first game we played them, we stood back and watched the game instead of attacking,” Fish said. “I wanted to change our approach there and be more aggressive. Good teams, it will bother them for a minute and then they make adjustments. … I thought we were a much tougher team than we were three weeks ago in this game.”

And yet, unless these teams meet in Reno, Nevada during March’s Big Sky tournament, Colbert (15) and fellow senior Danny Robison will leave MSU having never beaten the Grizzlies.

“It didn’t go how I wanted it to go, that’s for sure,” Colbert said.

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

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