(Editor’s note: Montana State University media release)
KENNEWICK, Washington – On a night that will forever be remembered for Tyler Hall’s historic moment, Montana State’s sensational senior was more than happy to share the moment.
“He was great,” Hall said of teammate Harald Frey, whose 31 points led the Bobcats to a 95-90 win over Washington State in Kennewick, the first MSU win over a Pac 12 opponent since 2011 and the first over WSU since 1973. “We needed him. I’m happy that we got the win.”
For posterity, Hall hit a three-pointer with just over 10 minutes to play to break Larry Chanay’s 59-year old Montana State career scoring record. Hall finished Sunday with 2,038 career points. On the same triple he broke the Big Sky Conference three-point record, previously held by Weber State’s Jeremy Senglin, and now has 347 to his credit.
During a first half when Hall drew a considerable portion of Washington State’s defensive attention, it was Frey who buoyed the Bobcats. The junior guard scored 18 points in the first half, finished with career highs in points (31) and rebounds (10), and also handed out six assists.
“I thought he was aggressive,” Bobcat coach Brian Fish said of Frey, “and he attacked. We’re a better team when we attack, and Harry set the tone for us.”
The game featured some drastic swings. Montana State erupted out of the gates, with Frey hitting a three-pointer on the team’s first possession and a jumper on its third, sandwiching a Tyler Hall triple. That pushed MSU to an 8-2 lead, which it held for most of the half. The biggest advantage was 29-18.
Washington State’s commitment to casting away early in possessions and from deep cost the Cougars in the game’s first 10 minutes, as the Cats built a double-digit lead, but once the Pac 12 squad settled into a rhythm it chiseled away at MSU’s lead.
Carter Skaggs hit three triples and three free throws in the opening period to notch 14 points, and it was his bomb with 91 seconds to play in the half that gave WSU its first lead. A layup by Aljaz Kunc 45 seconds later, and an Isaiah Wade free throw with five seconds remaining in the half pushed the Cougar lead to three, but Hall, who had only five points in the first 19:59 of the first half, hit a 38-foot shot at the buzzer off a play drawn up by Fish.
That shot, on which Hall set his feet, squared his shoulders, and hit in the normal rhythm of his shot, tied the game at intermission and boosted Hall into a historic second half.
And things got rolling quickly. Hall drained a three-pointer on the first possession after halftime, then Ladan Ricketts followed, and the Bobcats led 49-43. Viont’E Daniels scored for the Cougars, then Sam Neumann converted a layup. Jervae Robinson made a layup for the Cougars, but Devin Kirby took a beautiful feed from Frey for an answer. Hall’s layup gave the Bobcats an eight-point lead.
“I thought the biggest part of the game was our start in the second half,” Fish said. “We’ve had some slow starts coming out of halftime, but I thought the guys executed and we were able to get going.”
Washington State answered, and a 9-2 run gave the Cougars a 69-64 lead with 10:54 remaining. But Ricketts stemmed the tide with a three-pointer, and after a Robinson layup Hall pulled the Cats within one with his historic three-pointer. That began a 16-8 Bobcat run that two triples from Hall and one from Frey, but also points from Devin Kirby and Zeke Quinlan.
While Hall and Frey rightly reside in the headlines generated by Sunday’s game, Kirby and Ricketts were key contributors. A junior from Livingston, Ricketts scored 18 points on only seven field goal attempts (4-for-7 shooting, 4-for-6 from the arc). Kirby, a 6-11 sophomore, scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. And Neumann, inserted into the starting lineup because of Keljin Blevins’ leg injury, grabbed seven rebounds.
But this night will always belong to Hall, who brilliance and consistency has etched his name permanently among the best players in Big Sky Conference history. With the Bobcat scoring record in his hip pocket, Hall passed UM’s Larry Krystkowiak and Weber State star Bruce Collins on the Big Sky scoring list on Sunday. The league record of 2,169, set just last spring by Bogdan Bliznyuk, is in his sights.
Frey beamed when praising his teammate. “It’s been great,” he said of playing side-by-side with Hall for two-and-a-half seasons. “He deserves all of this.”
Montana State raised its record to 3-6 on Sunday, and gets a respite for MSU’s finals week. The Cats play again on December 18 at Denver. Washington State falls to 5-3 on the season.