You could hear it loud and clear all the way across the arena.
"Let's go Bobcats!" was the chant of one little soul. It was an amazing display of courage from what looked to be a 5-year-old girl, pink pom-poms waving in the air during a timeout.
It brought a smile to several people on press row and elicited a smile from Montana State head coach Brad Huse. It didn't seem to matter that it came midway through the first half of Montana State's 50-point victory which came close to a plethora of MSU records. All that seemed to matter at that moment was the girl's chant and the levity it brought to an arena where many people dressed as empty seats.
They call them cupcake games, and sometimes it happens under the Red Line, not just to it. MSU took full advantage of the tiny NAIA school from Espanola, New Mexico, hitting on 32 of their 38 possessions before the intermission and potentially erasing the bitter taste of a close "moral victory" loss at Arizona State (six points) two days prior. The Bobcats were the no-doubt aggressors this time around, controlling every aspect of the game and handling the Eagles like one would expect an Arizona State to potentially handle the Bobcats.
Fast breaks, a trait MSU hopes to use on an everyday basis this year, were timely. Rebounds were plentiful. Dunks, a few of the alley-oop variety, were mixed in with slashes to the rim and layups of every kind. A fifteen point lead turned into 20, then 30, and finally 40 at the halftime buzzer. It was akin to watching a car begin to speed up on a test track, and the top speed (52 points) was reached twice in the final two minutes. A freshman from Albuquerque, the state's capital, drops in a putback for the final deficit and looks up at the scoreboard. The eyes say it all: "At least it wasn't worse."
Meanwhile, a former high school coach from Gallup, New Mexico, tried his best on the other bench to coach his team through being the sacrificial lamb. The Eagles, 0-for-the season after nine contests, were on their third game in three days and fourth in five. They traveled from Hobbs, N.M. on Wednesday to Ogden, Utah, as a feast for Weber State on Friday. The Eagles crossed into Montana late that night and headed to Billings, the easternmost "big city" in the state, before turning back and driving west to Bozeman to end their Treasure State trip.
After the building was cleared of all spectators and only a handful of people cleaning the arena and working throughout the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse remained, Ryan Cordova and his Eagles boarded their bus and set off into the night. Unlike the five-year-old who cheered hard for her Bobcats then went home, Northern New Mexico will not reach home until a Monday night game in Gunnison, Colo. is played against Western State College of Colorado.