Davis scored inside with 31 seconds to play to give the Bobcats the 54-52 lead. Southern Utah called a quick time out and set up a play but John Marshall’s game-tying running jumper was negated after the officials called an offensive foul on him.
The door wasn’t completely shut, however, as the Thunderbirds quickly fouled MSU’s Eric Norman, who missed two free throws wit six seconds to go. A.J. Hess pulled down the rebound and raced upcourt but Norman came through on the other end, partially blocking Race Parsons’ potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.
“We made some mistakes earlier when we could have capitalized and we had some calls that didn’t go our way but you have to play through that, and we did play through it,” SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. “I’m proud of the way we played hard; continued improvement is always good to see but we did have some breakdowns.”
Southern Utah led throughout the first half, by as many as 11 points before Montana State came back from a 24-13 deficit, scoring the final seven points of the half to pull within 24-20 at the break.
“Credit Montana State for taking care of the basketball and keeping it a close game,” Robinson noted. “We had opportunities in the first half and again in the second half to build on our lead but we weren’t able to take advantage.”
Southern Utah suffered a big blow midway through the first half when leading scorer and starting point guard Trey Kennedy went down with an apparent knee injury, but the Thunderbirds played well without him.
“That didn’t change our strategy, we just had to have guys come in and pick us up and we did,” Robinson pointed out. “John [Marshall] and Drake [Thomas] came in and ran the offense, they did what they needed to do.”
Hess scored 14 points to lead the Thunderbirds, while Race Parsons came off the bench to score eight and Casey Oliverson also finished with eight. Cal Hanks came off the bench to pull down seven points while Jayson Cheesman and Juwan Major both came off the bench to block two shots. Oliverson, Hess and Jaren Jeffery each had three assists to lead the T-Birds.
Norman was the second-leading scorer for MSU with nine points and he pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Marcus Colbert had three assists to lead the Bobcats.
SUU dipped to 0-19 in league play and 1-18 overall while MSU moved to 5-4 in the Big Sky and 10-10 overall.