Game Recap

Adamu, Bishop boost Bobcats to OT win over Northern Colorado


Amin Adamu entered a rare group in Montana State history on Saturday afternoon. And his 36-point outburst helped boost the Bobcats to a crucial overtime win to help MSU complete a weekend sweep to open Big Sky Conference play with a bang.

The stellar play after halftime by Adamu and his backcourt teammate Xavier Bishop helped the Bobcats rally from a 13-point second-half deficit. Adamu scored 19 points in the second half and six more in overtime, Bishop scored 14 of his 22 points in the second stanza and OT and the Bobcats emerged with a 76-74 overtime victory at Bank of Colorado Arena.

Montana State senior Xavier Bishop against Northern Colorado on January 9, 2021/ photo by UNC athletics

“Amin and X were just terrific,” Montana State second-year head coach Danny Sprinkle said on his post-game interview on the Bobcat Radio Network. “I didn’t know Amin had 36 points.

“He played really well down here last year. He’s improved so much. The game has slowed down so much for him. He’s accepted coaching. He was pretty hard-headed his first few months here but when we finally broke in, he trusted us.”

Adamu poured in 25 points after halftime including six in the extra period The hyper-athletic 6-foot-4 junior who’s in his second season at Montana State converted 13-of-23 from the floor, hit a 3-pointer and converted nine of 10 free throws.

His point total makes him one of 23 players in Bobcat history to score at least 36 points. The Montana State single-game scoring record is 44 points by Tom Storm against Portland State in 1967.  Adamu, a former junior college transfer, held a previous career high at MSU was 17 points.

“He’s a terrific athlete and he’s a lot better shooter than people think he is, especially from the mid-range,” Sprinkle said. “He and X were two of the biggest reasons we won the game.”

The victory moves Montana State to 2-0 in Big Sky Conference play and 5-3 overall. MSU had not played a Division I game in 16 days leading up to Thursday’s 79-67 victory over the Bears, the second such stretch between Division I games this season.

Saturday’s win also brings MSU to .500 against Division I opponents at 3-3. Montana State’s scheduled Big Sky openers last weekend against Southern Utah were cancelled because of Covid-19 positive tests.

Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle in 2019/by Brooks Nuanez

The loss drops Northern Colorado to 2-4 in league play. The Bears split with Idaho State and Montana before getting swept at home despite a career weekend for Matt Johnson. The UNC guard hit six 3-pointers in a row on the way to scoring 20 points (but none in the final 12 minutes) on Thursday. Saturday, he hit three triples and scored 21 points to lead four Bears in double figures.

UNC All-Big Sky junior Bodie Hume scored 14 points but it took him 14 shots to get there, including missing nine of his 11 attempts from beyond the arc. In his post-game interview, Sprinkle praised senior Abdul Mohamed for making Hume work for all of his shots.

“His (Mohamed) stat line doesn’t show the impact he had on the game,” Sprinkle said. “Him guarding Bodie Hume was huge. Hume was 2-of-11 from the 3-point line and a lot of that was Abdul. That was his matchup and Hume struggled with Abdul’s length. (Mohamed’s) urgency and intensity, that was one of the differences for us.”

Junior center Kur Jockuch and junior guard Greg Bowie each scored 12 points but the Bears fell to 5-6 because Northern Colorado could never find an answer to guarding the penetration of Montana State’s backcourt.

Coming out of halftime, a 3-point play from Jockuch helped UNC push its lead to 42-29.

Adamu and Bishop willed the Bobcats back into the game. Bishop’s 3-pointer with 6:28 left tied the game at 55. UNC only led one more time and only for a single possession.

Montana State guard Amin Adamu (4) rises up for dunk vs. Montana in Saturday/by Brooks Nuanez

During Montana State’s charge, Adamu scored 17 points and converted all seven of his field goal attempts. Bishop scored seven points. Only two other Bobcats (Mohamed, freshman Tyler Patterson) scored, combining for three points during the 12-minute stretch that saw the Bobcats erase a double-digit lead against the Bears for the second game in a row.

“We knew we had this four-minute chunk where if we got stops and exploded offensively, we could cut the lead,” Sprinkle said.

Adamu pushed his shooting streak nine makes in 10 attempts and Bishop kept cooking too, converting three straight lay-ups to help Montana State push the lead to 66-61 with 2:22 left. But UNC answered with a 7-2 to tie the game at 68 capped  by Tre’Shon Smoots’ 3-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation.

Bishop’s final bucket of the weekend — he scored a career-high 28 points, including 14 after halftime on Thursday — came on MSU’s first possession of overtime and gave Montana State the lead for good.

Adamu’s final bucket with 1:58 left broke a 74-74 tie. That score held until the final possession. Northern Colorado executed a play crisply to set up a corner 3-point attempt from corner that went in and out.

MSU grabbed the rebound to secure Sprinkle’s second career win over Northern Colorado.

“We will enjoy this one,” Sprinkle said. “We enjoy every one of these wins.”

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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