PORTLAND, Ore. — Montana State had an opportunity to take a lead with seconds remaining, but Portland made the most of a second-half rally to defeat the Bobcats 62-59 at the Chiles Center on Tuesday.
Portland whittled away at a 32-22 halftime deficit and eventually took a 51-50 lead with 6:15 on the clock. MSU trailed 60-56 before a Xavier Bishop layup and Jubrile Belo dunk cut the edge to 60-59 with 49 seconds to go.
The Bobcats forced a turnover with 34 seconds left and called a timeout for their ensuing possession. MSU ran down the shot clock and Bishop was unable to convert on a contested attempt under the hoop.
Portland completed its comeback with two free throws by Latrell Jones with less than two seconds remaining to put the game away.
Montana State (2-3) jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half — and led by as many as 13 — by holding Portland (6-2) to just 7 of 26 (26.9%) shooting in the opening 20 minutes. Amin Adamu had 13 points and Abdul Mohamed had seven to pace MSU in the early going.
"They ratcheted up the pressure and we didn't handle it very well," Montana State coach Danny Sprinkle said of Portland in the second half in a school press release. "They only made three 3's (in the game), and we still held them to 32% from the field, but the free throw line killed us. In the second half we didn't step up and make free throws and it cost us. We had 17 turnovers, we were sloppy. Our offense is going to continue to be a work in progress, but we've got a long ways to go."
Bishop scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half for the Bobcats and went 7 for 15 from the field overall. Mohamed played 29 minutes off the bench and had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Eddie Davis led a trio of Pilots in double figures with 19 points, and also grabbed 10 rebounds. Jones followed him with 10 points and nine rebounds. Hayden Crutiss came off the bench for Portland to contribute six blocks.
Montana State makes its Big Sky Conference debut on New Year's Eve when the Bobcats host Southern Utah. MSU and Southern Utah are slated to tipoff at 2:30 p.m. with the game available on SWX Montana, Pluto TV as well as the Bobcat Sports Radio Network.