Montana State men handle Northern Colorado, advance to Big Sky tournament semifinals

BOISE, Idaho — The Montana State men’s basketball team is on to the Big Sky Conference tournament semifinals for the third straight season.

Behind a strong shooting performance, the second-seeded Bobcats (23-9) earned an 84-73 quarterfinal win over eighth-seeded Northern Colorado (12-20) on Sunday night at Idaho Central Arena.

MSU built a 47-24 lead at halftime of Sunday’s game and led the Bears by as many as 27 points. UNC never cut the deficit below 12 in the second half.

The defending Big Sky tournament champion Bobcats shot 46.6% from the field, 37.5% (6 of 16) from 3-point range and 88.9% (24 of 27) from the free throw line. The Bears shot 43.1%, 35.3% (6 of 17) and 100% (17 of 17), respectively. Both teams grabbed 32 rebounds, while UNC turned it over 11 times and forced eight turnovers.

RaeQuan Battle led MSU with 21 points (7 of 15 from the field, 7 of 7 from the line) and three blocks, while Jubrile Belo had 18 points (5 of 11, 8 of 10) and eight rebounds, Caleb Fuller had 18 points (6 of 11 from the field, 4 of 8 from 3) and four boards and Great Osobor added 15 points (6 of 7 on field goals) and two blocks. Big Sky defensive player of the year Darius Brown II scored just five points but dished out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds.

UNC’s Daylen Kountz scored a game-high 27 points, and Dalten Knecht finished with 26 points and eight rebounds.

MSU’s win came on the heels of two upset losses — the No. 2 MSU women fell 77-65 to No. 7 Portland State, and the