BOZEMAN — A highly anticipated game between two of the Big Sky Conference’s best teams went as advertised for the first 20 minutes, but that’s why they play until the final buzzer.
The Montana State men did that, but the result was far from what the Bobcats had hoped.
“(Our) guys’ effort was good and everything like that,” said Montana State head coach Brian Fish. “Some nights, the shots don’t go and (Montana’s) defense was really good. (It) separated the game.”
A 33-all tie at halftime turned into a 67-52 Montana victory, sealed by the Grizzlies’ stout second-half defense.
“For those guys to hold (Montana State), as a team, to 19 points in the second half and no made field goals in the second half, (that’s) an incredible performance,” said Grizzlies head coach Travis DeCuire.
The Bobcats shot just four of 24 in the final 20 minutes, while Montana made a living in the paint. The Grizzlies outscored MSU 40-16 in the paint.
“That’s our game plan every game,” said Montana forward Jamar Akoh, who led all scorers with 15 points. “We try and dominate the paint and we try to get post touches, that’s our motto.”
Both teams jumped out to 4-0 starts in conference play, but are headed in different directions. The Bobcats are now 4-3, while the Grizzlies are a perfect 7-0.
“We don’t want to lose, so we know people are going to come in here and give us their best game,” Akoh said. “Hopefully that will give us some motivation to come in focused and play hard and try to keep this streak going.”
The Bobcats will try and get back in the win column on Jan. 25 against Northern Arizona and the Grizzlies will face Southern Utah on the same night.