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MSU men advance to Big Sky championship

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Posted at 7:19 AM, Mar 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-12 09:19:36-05

BOISE, Idaho -- The Montana State women's basketball team etched their name into school history on Friday afternoon.

Friday evening, it was the Bobcat men who took one more step towards history.

No. 1 MSU defeated No. 4 Weber State 69-66 at Idaho Central Arena in Boise at the Big Sky Conference Tournament. It's the second straight year the Bobcats are in the Big Sky title game.

"This game, I mean talk about a great college basketball game," MSU coach Danny Sprinkle said. "We just had to literally claw back the entire 40 minutes. It felt like we'd get close and they'd hit a shot and they'd get close. But that's Weber, they're a great team."

RaeQuan Battle finished with 17 points off of the bench and went 13 for 14 from the free throw line. Amin Adamu finished with 15 points, Xavier Bishop had 14 and Great Osobor added 10 points as MSU improved to 26-7.

Weber State jumped out to an 11-3 lead and led the entire first half before MSU took its first lead in the second half with 7:34 left after Osobor scored and was fouled to make it 55-53 before his free throw.

Battle's lone miss at the free throw line came with 14.5 seconds left on the first of two attempts. He made the second to make it 69-66, and Koby McEwen and Dillon Jones had good looks to tie the game but both shots were just off as the buzzer sounded. Jones led Weber State (21-12) with 18 points and nine rebounds.

"One of the biggest keys we talk about especially at the start of the game is find a way," Adamu said. "Coach Sprinkle always tells us find a way no matter what it is and I feel like we stayed the course, we kept our heads up. We didn't keep our heads down we kept fighting and we found a way to win."

"Just knowing who we are and we've been in games like this all season from Colorado to now pretty much," Battle added. "So I mean we're kind of used to it that's why we even schedule those games. When it comes down to the postseason we want to be prepared for whatever happens when it comes down to the wire.

"I've always dreamed for these moments. The other day I hit our game winner and it was the best feeling I've ever had and having the boys I love coming to hug me after a win, it's a dream come true. This is why we play. This is exactly why we play."

MSU will play the winner of Northern Colorado and Portland State in the championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m. The winner will advance to the NCAA Tournament, with MSU looking to make its first appearance since 1996.

"We've had a countdown," Sprinkle said. "I've been reminding these guys for the last 40 days like hey we've got 28 days, we got 19 days, we got eight days, we got three day. Well now, we're to the day. I trust all of our guys. Borja Fernandez, Isaac Spears, I can put those guys in tomorrow night and I know they're going to produce. I know they're going to execute what we've been working on. That's the way we've tried to build this program.

"It doesn't matter who's there, you go do your job and do your job, and if you do your job and let everything else fall in place, then we're going to be alright."