BOZEMAN — Reflecting on last Sunday’s 80-67 loss at Fresno State, Montana State men’s basketball coach Brian Fish said his team experienced some weariness at the end of a road swing that took them through Louisiana, Mexico and California in the span of 11 days.
The Bobcats won two of four games on that sojourn, but Fish said they let an opportunity slip away in the capper versus the Bulldogs.
“I just thought that when you looked at it, you could tell we were at the end of an 11-day trip,” Fish said Tuesday. “We were — I don’t know — stuck in mud a little bit. But had you said we’d go 2-2, we would have mailed that in and not even gone on the trip.
“To get the two (wins) and to be able to swing away for a third ... I was just hoping we’d have a little more juice on it because we had an opportunity to get the third win.
“There’s some frustration there as we try to figure out what type of team we have, but I certainly enjoyed and had a lot of fun coaching those guys for the two games in Cancun, because they really brought it.”
The Bobcats won the Mayan Division championship at the Cancun Challenge last week by beating Binghamton and Southeast Missouri. Those wins were sandwiched between a loss at Louisiana Tech on Nov. 18 and the aforementioned defeat to Fresno State.
Fish said MSU guard Tyler Hall remains gimpy from an ankle injury suffered in a home victory over Montana Western on Nov. 15, but Hall still scored 34 points in the title game in Cancun, an 88-82 win over Southeast Missouri.
It was Hall’s 12th career 30-point game.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Isaac Bonton raised his level of play on the road trip, scoring 38 combined points in four games. Bonton seems to be hitting an early-season stride after missing several days of practice in the preseason with both a concussion and a hip bruise.
“He’s a good player, but I have to see you live to develop confidence in you and to know what you’re going to do,” Fish said of Bonton. “I’ve gotten confidence in him.”
The Bobcats return to their home floor Wednesday night when they host Bethesda (California), a team from the Pacific Christian Athletic Conference. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Bethesda upset a Division I opponent last season — a 100-95 victory over Cal State Northridge of the Big West Conference.
“They’re going to run up and down the floor and get after it,” Fish said. “It’s a game that we need to come out and address some of the things that we didn’t do well (on the road). It’s also a game to get some guys’ confidence going again.
“Hopefully we can come out and play hard and take a step. Because we then enter, basically, conference games from there on out. You look at the teams, they all would be top-level Big Sky teams that we play. We need to take a step (and) improve.”
The Bobcats will close the nonconference portion of their schedule with road games against Milwaukee, Central Michigan and Omaha, and home games versus UC Santa Barbara and Denver.
Large crowd expected
Montana State’s women will take the Worthington Arena floor earlier Wednesday for a game against Wyoming. Tipoff is at 11 a.m.
The Bobcats (3-2) will be putting their 27-game home winning streak on the line against the Cowgirls (4-2), who have lost two straight.
It is also MSU’s first Basketball School Day, which will be attended by approximately 35 area schools and 5,000 children. It figures to be one of the Bobcats’ largest home crowds in years.
On Thursday, MSU will travel to Hawaii to play in the Oregon State/Maui Jim Classic.