(Editor’s note: Montana State media release)
BOZEMAN — Weber State shot a 54% in each half, hit a dozen three-pointers and out-rebounded Montana State by 19 in a 93-84 win over the Bobcats in Bozeman on Thursday, but while MSU coach Brian Fish credited the Wildcats he found the key to the game much closer to home.
“Our problem is with us right now,” Fish said after his Bobcats dropped their third straight game. “We’re not guarding, we’re not committed to what we need to do. We’ve got to block out, we’ve got to get stops. I love our energy, but we’re not connected to what we want to do defensively and on the boards, and those are things you can control. That’s where we have to get things fixed.”
League-leading Weber State (13-6 overall, 7-1 Big Sky) jumped on the Cats early, using a 10-2 run midway through the first half that it would maintain most of the night. The Wildcats never trailed, and the closest Montana State could get after the game’s first 10 minutes was seven points. That happened first on Keljin Blevins’ layup with 11:26 remaining, then just over a minute later when Harald Frey hit a three-pointer to close the gap to 65-58 at 10:15. Weber State scored the next six points, and MSU would never be closer than eight the rest of the game.
“That’s a good team,” Fish said, “give them credit for making shots.” The Wildcats made shots at a steady rate, hitting 54.8% from the floor in the first half and 54.2% in the second. Montana State, on the other hand, shot 33% in the first half, falling behind 44-35 at the intermission, before rallying to shoot 51.5% after halftime. The Wildcats extended possessions by grabbing 11 offensive rebounds, turning them into 18 points.
Montana State’s Tyler Hall led all scorers with 28, also adding three assists and a steal. Keljin Blevins scored 19 for the Cats, and Harald Frey added 15. The Bobcats held Wildcats guard Jerrick Harding in check much of the night, until he hit six free throws in the game’s final five minutes to push his total to a team-high 23 points. Weber State did most of its damage inside. Brekkott Chapman scored 21 points and grabbed seven boards, while Zach Braxton had 17 points and a dozen boards. Together, Weber’s two big men snared 19 of the team’s 46 rebounds, to MSU’s team total of 26.
“They were effective in what they were doing,” Frey said. “They were effective in getting to their spots and give them credit for knocking down so many shots.”
Sam Neumann finished with eight points, three rebounds and two assists. He said defense and rebounding remain key components of Montana State’s fortunes. “That’s what we’ve been talking about for a long time,” he said. “We work on it every day. When we get out-rebounded like that we’re not going to win a game.”
Montana State’s defensive bright spot was forcing 19 Wildcat turnovers. MSU turned those turnovers into 24 points, and the Cats gave the ball away just six times.
The Bobcats fall to 7-11 on the season, 4-4 in Big Sky play. Montana State hosts Idaho State at 2 pm Saturday in Worthington Arena.