(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – It was a small moment, but to Bobcat coach Brian Fish it mattered a lot.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half and Montana State looking for a stop that would give the Cats a shot at taking the lead into halftime Northern Colorado turned an offensive rebound into a three-pointer at the buzzer. That shot gave the Bears a 38-34 lead at the intermission and they never looked back on the way to an 86-63 win over MSU in Greeley on Saturday.
“That changed the game,” Fish said of that play and Northern Colorado’s 48-to-31 rebounding advantage. “I thought the rebounds energized them and gave them some second chance shots and that was a big boost for them.”
UNC’s other boost came in the form of guard Andre Spight, who scored 41 points, the 56th time a Big Sky player has netted at least 40. It is tied for 11th in conference history, and his 15 baskets is a Northern Colorado Division I record.
“He’s a good player,” Fish said, “and he got going. He did a really good job for them.”
MSU’s shooting woes continued on Saturday. While Northern Colorado topped 50% shooting in each half and finished at 51.5% for the game, the Cats shot 32.8%. MSU hit just 21.2% of its shots after halftime. That 17-6 spurt around halftime pushed Northern Colorado’s lead into double-digits, and it remained there for the remainder of the game.
The first half began and ended much as MSU’s game did on Thursday. After an early basket the Bobcats gave up a run, although a Devonte Klines and-one ended it at five before it reached 14 as it had Thursday. The period ended when Chaz Glotta nailed a three-pointer, giving UNC a 38-34 margin at the intermission. In between MSU competed effectively, and the Bobcats’ 45.2% shooting was its best mark from the floor out of the previous four halves of basketball.
Spight and Hall dueled throughout the opening stanza, each finishing with 18. Northern Colorado out-rebounded MSU 19-11 before the break, and while only three of those came on the offensive glass – all by Jonah Radebaugh – that produced the half-ending three-pointer that sent UNC into the intermission with momentum.
While Spight’s 41 points stole the show, Hall finished with 27 on 10-for-17 shooting. He hit five triples, and was the only Bobcat in double-digits.
The Cats fall to 12-11 on the season, 5-6 in the Big Sky. Northern Colorado is 14-9 overall, 7-3 in the conference. Montana State returns to action Thursday, hosting Sacramento State at 7 pm in Worthington Arena.