‘All for each other’: Montana State basketball teams enjoy simultaneous winning streaks | Montana State Bobcats

BOZEMAN — On Dec. 30, Montana State lost to one of Big Sky’s top men’s basketball teams by 10 points, 85-75 at home to Weber State.

Two days later, MSU lost to one of Big Sky’s top women’s basketball teams by 10 points, 67-57 at Idaho State.

No Bobcats group has lost since.

The MSU men have won their nine games since the start of the year, their best winning streak in their best season since the turn of the century. The MSU women’s success isn’t new, but their scorching 2022 has been boosted by the men’s accomplishments. The teams are 17-0 combined since that Idaho State game on Jan. 1.

“It’s not two separate teams, it’s two teams competing against each other,” MSU women’s coach Tricia Binford told 406mtsports.com on Tuesday.

Montana State’s Katelynn Limardo (11), Kola Bad Bear, Darian White (0) and Leia Beattie (15) of Montana State walk to the bench after claiming a 74-71 win over Weber State at Bozeman’s Worthington Arena on Saturday .

The MSU men’s nine-game winning streak is the longest in 20 years, and their 18 wins are the most since in the same time frame. They are also ranked No. 21 in CollegeInsider.com’s latest major top 25. MSU believes 2002 was the last time they cracked these rankings, but was unable to confirm.

If the men win their next three games, they will tie their longest winning streak in school history (set in 1994-95) and tie their most wins since 1995-96, the last time they reached the NCAA Tournament.

“We have a lot of guys who could score 16 to 20 points per game, and they sacrificed themselves, especially some of these seniors who came back,” MSU head coach Danny Sprinkle said Tuesday. “They sacrifice that to win.”

Sprinkle began his playing career at MSU in 1996-97. When he was hired in 2019, the Cats had just finished their ninth straight season with a .500 or worse record (2016-17 was their only undefeated season during that stretch). They’ve been above .500 in the three seasons since he became head coach, going from 16-15 to 13-10 to 18-5 so far this season.

“I’m just extremely proud of Danny and what he’s done with this program,” Binford said. “It’s just remarkable, the culture he’s built so quickly and the guys who are bought and the level of effort they compete with every day.”

Montana State Idaho MBB

Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle chats with forward RaeQuan Battle during a game against Idaho at Worthington Arena in Bozeman on January 29.

Sprinkle had adopted the word “ubuntu” to describe his team’s philosophy. The African term popularized by Doc Rivers when he was coaching the Boston Celtics has various meanings including “humanity to others”. The Cats defined it as “my success is your success”.

“Everyone is cheering for everyone,” MSU senior winger Abdul Mohamed said on Tuesday. “That’s the foundation of this team – ubuntu, my success is your success – and this team really lives that.”

A retirement in 2021 has helped the Cats develop the close bond that marked their breakout season. The players were vulnerable and learned to “know each other more than at the basketball level” during retirement, Mohamed said.

“A lot of guys kind of stepped out of their comfort zone and told us things about themselves that they never told anyone,” Sprinkle said. “It really brought our team together, and I think since then our unity has been on another level.”

The MSU men (10-2 in the Big Sky game) embodied ubuntu on Saturday, when they took on Weber State 78-57 in Ogden, Utah. They rolled to Idaho State two days later to pull a half game behind first-place WSU entering their matchup with Portland State Thursday night at Worthington Arena.

“You have to have a next game mentality, and that’s what we do,” Sprinkle said. “I think that’s why this group has been successful so far. They don’t look ahead. »

The MSU Women (15-8, 10-2) pulled half a game past ISU for first place after their wild comeback win at Idaho on Monday. They’re on their second eight-game winning streak in as many seasons and would need to win 10 more in a row to tie a program record. The Cats, who received one vote in the last average women’s poll, finished the 2019-20 season atop the Big Sky standings and won the conference tournament three years prior (the 2019-20 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19).

MSU State Weber WBB

Montana State head coach Tricia Binford directs her players during a game against Weber State on Saturday at Worthington Arena.

Just because the women’s winning ways aren’t surprising doesn’t mean this season hasn’t been special. Big Sky’s co-player of the week, Darian White has put together a winter worthy of conference MVP averaging 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season. The junior point guard scored a career-high 32 points in Monday’s 96-84 win over the Vandals, who led by 14 points in the second half.

“It was really cool to be able to show off the aerial combat that we had in us and to come out with that voiceover, and on top of that having Big Sky’s co-player of the week, so that’s really exciting,” said said White on Tuesday. . “But I’m still hungry. I want to take this to another level and do very well in the tournament.

The MSU Women lost to Idaho in the semifinals of last year’s Big Sky Tournament. The men haven’t topped the conference standings to complete a regular season since 2001-02, and their last Big Sky Tournament title was in 1995-96.

While neither team is looking to the future, they would certainly like to leave next month’s conference tournaments in Boise, Idaho with a few top spots. Together.

Montana State Women postpone Portland State game, pivot to Southern Utah