(Editor’s note: Montana State athletics release)
CHENEY, Wash. – Eastern Washington shot too well for too long, slipping past Montana State 85-81 in Cheney on Saturday at Reese Court.
The Eagles overcame a 26-point performance by Tyler Hall – which included breaking a 10-month old conference record – by shooting 58 percent on the afternoon and making 12 of their 26 3-point tries. Keljin Blevins scored 23 points, but missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds.
Hall made history just two-and-a-half minutes into the game. With MSU leading 7-5, the sensational senior guard hit a step-back 3-pointer from the left corner to tally his 2,170th career point, breaking the Big Sky Conference career record held by EWU’s Bogdan Bliznyuk for 316 days. Hall previously set the Montana State scoring record – also in the state of Washington, in Kennewick against Washington State – and the league’s career 3-point record.
Eastern led by as many as 10 in the second half before a fast Bobcat finish gave Montana State a chance to tie on the last possession. “We wanted to attack there,” said MSU coach Brian Fish, “and it just got crossways a little bit.”
In addition to the Eagles’ hot shooting, they out-rebounded the Bobcats 34 to 31. “I’m a big believer that every rebound is worth one point,” Fish said. “They got us by three on the boards and by four points. When we’re playing well, we’re getting it done on the boards. We need to get back to that.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with Eastern leading by as many as seven with a minute-and-a-half left after a Jacob Davison 3-pointer. One free throw by Harald Frey and two by Hall, followed by a short jumper by Hall and a layup after a baseline drive by Keljin Blevins, drew the Cats within 45-42 at the break.
The Eagles scorched the nets at a 58 percent rate in the first half, while the Cats shot just 47 percent. The Eagles hit two more triples than the Cats, but MSU stayed close by hitting nine of their 12 free throw attempts, while EWU was just 2-for-3 from the line in the opening period.