(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – Idaho State shot 66.7% in the second half, scoring on 26 of their 35 possessions after the intermission to turn a close game into an easy 101-78 win over Montana State in Worthington Arena on Thursday.
Bengals sophomore Jared Stutzman scored a career-high 33 points, hitting eight of his 11 three-pointers to pace an Idaho State attack that drained a season-high 17 triples. It was also the most threes allowed by the Bobcats in 2017-18.
“They got us in the high ball screen and found the open man,” said Bobcats head coach Brian Fish. “To their credit they made their threes.”
Montana State had one of its better shooting games in recent weeks, knocking down 48.1% of its shots, including 9-for-20 from the three-point arc. But that wasn’t enough to stay with the Bengals, who have hit at least 50% of their three-point shots in four of the last five games. Geno Luzcado scored 22 points for Idaho State, Balint Mocsan 14, and Brandon Boyd 13.
“We knew Stutzman and we knew Mocsan can really shoot it so we had to dart in and out (defensively),” Fish said. “They found the open man and made their shots.”
The first half gave scarcely a clue of what was the come. A rapid pace led to a 41-38 Bengals lead at the break, but Fish was satisfied with his team’s defense. “I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half defensively,” he said. “We held them to 40% shooting and we were right in it.”
The score was tight throughout that stanza, with the Bengals using a 10-2 spurt starting at the four-and-a-half minute mark to build a 40-30 lead. But the Bobcats fought back, with five points from Joe Mvuezolo Jr. keying a run that drew the team within three points as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
When Harald Frey drained a three-pointer on the second half’s first possession, Montana State had pulled even for the first time since the Cats led 12-11. But Stutzman drained a three-pointer to answer, and in the next three minutes he hit two more (one in an and-one situation for a four-point play) and was bookended by triples from Luzcando and Mocsan. Just like that, Idaho State had had built its lead to 57-44, and the Cats wouldn’t be closer than that the rest of the night.
When asked where the breakdown occurred, Bobcat senior Konner Frey answered simply. “We gave up 101 points, the majority in the second half. It’s going to be extremely hard to win games when that happens.”
Frey will be one of four MSU seniors to play their final home games on Saturday – joining Zach Green, Joe Mvuezolo and Benson Osayande – when the Bobcats host Weber State. Tipoff is 2:05 pm in Worthington Arena.