BOZEMAN — Sometimes it’s your night, and from early in Montana State’s 68-66 win over Northern Arizona Saturday Michael Dison had that feeling.
“I was just glad I came through for my team,” Dison said after hitting a buzzer-beating floater from about 10 feet to give MSU the win.
Dison finished with a career-high 18 points, which included nine points in succession in the game’s first four minutes to give MSU an early 11-5 lead. “You go 4-for-4 on your first four shots, you think, I could have a good night. I just tried to stay focused in and good things happened.”
He also made a game-changing play on drawing a charge when Lumberjack guard Kris Yanku penetrated the lane to give the Bobcats possession with just under six seconds remaining and the game tied at 64. MSU’s junior guard from Houston knew drawing the charge involved risk. “I was kind of hesitant on taking it, could have been a block and we were both in the bonus. But it worked out.”
MSU held the lead built on Dison’s early spurt through much of the game, and after trailing early in the second half had reconstructed a six-point cushion with 3:46 to play when Paul Egwuonwu hit a layup. But Aaseem Dixon followed with two of his 18 points for the Lumberjacks, and when Yanku hit a three-pointer at 1:55 and a layup a minute later NAU led 66-64.
But Flavien Davis hit a leaner in the paint for the last of his game-high 19 points to tie the game with 32 seconds left to set up Dison’s late-game heroics. “The good thing about us is that could be anybody,” the MSU junior guard said. “Anybody on this team could produce the type of game I had, a career night. That’s the beauty of our team, we have so much depth.”
Davis became MSU’s go-to player during the second half, when he scored 17 points. “It’s not necessarily that I needed to score, it was what my team needed me to do,” Davis said. “Like Mike said about our team, one of the best things about it is our depth. Tonight it just so happened that it was me and Mike’s night. When Coach draws up a play for you, you need to put it in the basket.”
With the game tied in the last half-minute, NAU ran the shot clock inside 10 seconds and Yanku penetrated from the high left angle. Dison got in position, and took the charge to give the Bobcats possession. During the ensuing time out, Huse called for Dison to receive the inbound pass and get as far up-court as he could.
“Mike was the hottest offensive player on the perimeter – Flavien had a great second half, too – and he made a heck of a shot, a heck of a play. He just went and did it,” Huse said.
The Bobcats built a 26-16 lead late in the first half when Northern Arizona rallied. Gaellen Bewernick hit a three-pointer and a layup in succession, and a triple by Max Jacobsen pulled the Lumberjacks to within two with 33 seconds in the half. After running the clock inside five, Davis hit a layup on Egwuonwu’s dish as time expired.
That play didn’t stem NAU’s momentum. In all, the Lumberjacks used an 18-4 run sandwiching halftime to take a four-point lead, 34-30, two minutes into the second stanza. “I thought the way the first half ended and the second half started was not in our favor,” Huse said. “They have a lot of confidence and a very talented group. They were playing that way.” The teams played back-and-forth basketball until consecutive layups by Davis and Egwuonwu gave MSU its six point lead with 3:46 to play.
The game’s even and contested nature didn’t surprise Huse. “Tonight we answered the bell with one more play at the end,” he said.
And for the record, Dison knew that game-winning play was good coming out of his hand. “I put a nice little touch on it, so I was pretty excited,” he said with a smile.
The Bobcats play at Portland State on Thursday before visiting Eastern Washington Saturday. MSU is now 7-6 on the season, 2-0 in Big Sky play. The Lumberjacks fall to 4-9, and stand 1-1 in the league after splitting the Montana trip.
— MSU Sports Information