(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – The mental component will continue to develop, but Brian Fish was plenty pleased with his team’s heart Saturday.
“I thought we played tremendously hard today,” Montana State’s fourth-year head coach said after his Bobcats finished a 68-64 win at Milwaukee on Saturday. “We might have a ways to go with the thinking part, but I liked the heart.”
The Bobcats held Milwaukee scoreless in the last two minutes of a roller-coaster second half. MSU led by as many eight in the first half before the Panthers drew to within two at the break. UWM then scored on its first five offensive possessions of the second half to take a 39-34 lead.
But the Cats battled back. The teams battled on even terms for much of the second half, , and when August Haas hit a three-pointer with 7:20 left Milwaukee tied the game at 52. Two Tyler Hall free throws and one by Harald Frey pushed MSU in front 55-52 at 6:44, and the Bobcats never trailed again.
“That was the most physical game we’ve played,” Fish said of Saturday’s win. “We just never found a rhythm offensively, so we had to grind it out.”
With just more than four minutes left, Milwaukee’s Jeremiah Bell hit a three-pointer to cut MSU’s lead to 58-57. Hall answered with a triple to push MSU’s lead to 61-57. A Bell jumper trimmed the lead to two, but Harald Frey’s three extended the lead to five with under three minutes left.
“Tyler and Harry hit some big shots,” Fish said, “but I thought our defense really saved us when the offense didn’t have it going. Our defense really kept us in it.”
Hall finished with 23 points for the Cats, his 39th career 20-point effort, and his five three-pointers moves him into the Big Sky Conference’s all-time top 10 (he now has 251). Harald Frey scored 18 points. Konner Frey came off the bench to grab eight rebounds and stabilize MSU’s interior defense against a bruising Panthers lineup.
After Milwaukee out-rebounded the Cats 19-to-15 at halftime, MSU finished with 36 boards to UWM’s 34. “I thought we did a good job on the boards,” Fish said. “We responded to how physical the game was.”
The Bobcats held Milwaukee to 42.3% shooting, while hitting 41.5%. MSU finished 15-for-22 from the line and 9-for-21 from the arc.
Montana State’s win boosts the team’s record to 6-3 on the season, and avenges a disappointing 83-78 Milwaukee win in Bozeman a season ago. The Bobcats face another opportunity on Tuesday, visiting Central Michigan at 5 pm MT/7 pm ET. The Chippewas beat MSU 106-103 in Bozeman last year.