Montana State Sports Information Release
BOZEMAN, Mont. – In the season of giving, Montana State was in a taking mood on Monday. The Bobcats forced 28 Denver turnovers and held the Pioneers to 43% shooting in a 79-65 win in Bozeman.
“We got the game changed around with our defense tonight,” said MSU coach Brian Fish after his team raised its record to 7-5 with one non-conference game remaining, Thursday at Omaha. “We’ve been a program that changes games with our offense, so give our guys credit. They played well on (the defensive) end.”
The 28 turnovers was the most forced by Montana State since Weber State’s 31 in 2004, and Denver’s 65 points was the fewest by a Bobcat non-conference opponent since Wyoming scored 61 in the Fieldhouse on December 23, 2014. The Bobcats drew 11 offensive fouls or shot clock violations, which Fish called an indication that MSU “got arms in the passing lanes and did a good job playing solid defense.”
Devonte Klines started the Bobcats, hitting a three-pointer on MSU’s first possession. A couple minutes later, Denver’s leading scorer Daniel Amigo tied the game at five on an and-one. With the game still tied Amigo was called for DU’s first offensive foul, and Tyler Hall’s three-pointer on the next trip down the floor gave the Bobcats an 8-5 lead. Hall hit another two possessions later to push the lead to 11-5, and Denver would never lead or be tied again.
Hall was one of the game’s main storylines, but not in the usual way. He committed two fouls in the first half, was whistled for a technical foul after an emphatic blocked shot less than four minutes into the second period, and fouled out after 16 minutes and eight points. That forced Fish into using combinations not yet seen with this squad. All 10 Bobcats that played logged at least 10 minutes. “I’m just really, really proud of the guys that haven’t played a lot for stepping up,” he said.
Sophomore guard Harald Frey led the Cats with 20 points, and said that with Hall and Klines plagued with foul trouble he accepted a scoring role. “Everyone in the country knows Tyler is our leader and it’s tough to win when he’s in foul trouble,” Frey said. “We needed guys to step up. I’ve been working on staying tougher, staying more aggressive. I had to do that tonight.”
With five baskets and six assists, Frey either scored or assisted on 11 of the team’s 24 field goals. Junior center Sam Neumann scored a single point, but led the Cats with eight rebounds in leading his team to a win over a DU squad led by his former teammate at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, Joe Rosga, who scored 15 points. Jake Pemberton netted 20 for the Pioneers.
While Frey paced the Cats, Keljin Blevins scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. “I thought that might have been Kel’s best game since the opener,” Fish said of Blevins’ 17-point, eight rebound effort five weeks ago. Klines scored 12 and had two steals.
Montana State closes the non-league portion of its schedule on Thursday, facing Omaha in Nebraska. MSU held off the Mavericks 89-80 in overtime on November 10, the season opener for both teams, in Great Falls. Tipoff is 6 pm MT/7 pm CT.