Montana State Sports Information Releases
BOZEMAN — The Montana State men shot just 16.7% in the second half, falling to Montana 67-52 in Bozeman on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 6,772 in Worthington Arena.
The Grizzlies used a 9-2 spurt six-and-a-half minutes into the second half, taking advantage of MSU’s cold shooting to take control of the game. “It was a great game in the first half and we got some good looks early in the second half,” said Bobcat coach Brian Fish. “But we struggled. Four-for-24 (shooting in the second half), we struggled, and that’s going to wear you down.”
Montana did much of its damage inside. Jamar Akoh scored 15 points and Ahmaad Rorie 13, as UM out-scored MSU 40-16 in the paint. “I think they’re a really good team and they played really well tonight,” Fish said.
The Cats led by eight through much of the first half, and Harald Frey’s three-pointer at 6:56 pushed the Bobcats to a 23-14 lead. But the Grizzlies countered, using a 12-3 spurt to tie the score. Another Harald Frey triple gave the Bobcats a 33-28 lead with 49 seconds remaining, but UM scored the last five points of the half on two Akoh charity shots and a Timmy Falls triple to send the game into the locker room tied at 33.
The story of the game is easily boiled down to second half shooting. Montana hit 43.3% of its shots, Rorie’s nine points leading the Grizzlies to 34 after intermission. “I thought at times our defense was really good,” Fish said. “You’ve got to give something away to take something away and they exposed us at times, but I thought we defended well for long stretches.”
On the other end, though, the Bobcats struggled mightily. MSU got single baskets from Keljin Blevins, Zach Green, Joe Mvuezolo Jr., and Konner Frey after halftime, with none behind the three-point arc. It was MSU’s worst shooting half of the season.
“Four-for-24 in the second half,” Fish said. “At some point that just demoralizes you.”
Harald Frey scored 13 points to lead the Bobcats, all in the first half. Tyler Hall scored 10. Keljin Blevins’ 12 rebounds tied for game-high honors. MSU out-rebounded the Grizzlies 41-to-36, but shot just 17-of-26 from the free throw line.
Montana State falls to 11-9 on the season, 4-3 in Big Sky play. Montana raised its record to 14-5 overall, and leads the Big Sky with a 7-0 mark. The Bobcats return to action Thursday in Worthington Arena, hosting Northern Arizona at 7 pm.
The Montana State women had four players in double-figures led by Delany Junkermier with 16 points to cruise past Montana 81-64 on Saturday afternoon in front of 4,017 fans in Worthington Arena. The victory was MSU’s third straight over the Lady Griz in the storied rivalry.
“I thought it was a fantastic game start to finish,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “We competed as a team and were able to handle the atmosphere of the arena from the start. Our offensive balance was tremendous and we had good production across the board.”
After an even first quarter, Montana State (10-8, 4-3) used a 9-0 run midway through the second frame to pull away from Montana (9-9, 5-2). The run included points from four different Bobcats, topped by a Hannah Caudill three-pointer.
Montana State took a 35-23 lead into intermission behind 11 points from Junkermier.
MSU opened the third stanza on a 9-4 run taking a 44-27 lead at the 7:12 mark on a layup via Rebekah Hatchard. Montana never challenged the remainder of the game, as MSU built it largest margin at 70-47 with 6:36 remaining on a Blaire Braxton layup.
“I thought our spacing was great and we were able to shoot it pretty well,” Caudill said. “Our posts did an awesome job and overall our offense just clicked.”
Also scoring in double-figures for the Bobcats were Hatchard and Caudill with 14 points, apiece, while Oliana Squires finished with 11 points.
MSU’s post duo of Braxton and Madeline Smith combined for 15 points and 14 rebounds. Braxton notched a season-best eight points.
The Cats held a slight 41-40 advantage under the boards paced by Smith with 10 rebounds.
For the game, MSU shot 44.1 percent from the field and connected on 11-of-26 from long distance. The Bobcat defense held the Lady Griz to 38.1 percent, including an icy 18.8 percent from beyond the three-point line.
The Bobcats also dished out 18 assists, paced by Caudill with a team-high six assists. With her six assists, Caudill passed Erica Perry (2006-10) for fourth on MSU’s all-time career list with 426 assists. She is now just 18 assists away from breaking Vicki Heebner-Carle’s (1980-84) all-time mark of 443.
Montana was paced in the loss by McKenzie Johnston with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Montana State will play at Northern Arizona next Thursday in Flagstaff.