(Editor’s note: Montana State media release)
POCATELLO, Idaho — Montana State University, which features an excellent math program, relied on a simple numeric formula in beating Idaho State 84-76 in Pocatello on Thursday.
Three is more than two.
“We didn’t get the ball moving like we wanted and some of (the three-pointers) were stand-up threes, but we made some big shots and I thought our free throw shooting saved us at the end of the day,” said Montana State coach Brian Fish.
The Bobcats made 13 three-pointers, out of 26 field goals, and used a 16-4 run starting with just under nine minutes remaining in the game, to fight off a pesky Idaho State squad. The Cats shot 43% from the arc, with Tyler Hall draining five treys, Ladan Ricketts four, and Harald Frey three.
Idaho State shot 52% from the floor and hit seven treys, but Fish said a defensive adjustment helped turn the tide. “We went to our zone with about eight minutes left and I thought that treated us well,” he said. “We flipped the script on them.”
The script the teams followed for the first 30 minutes or so was Idaho State’s zone keeping the Bobcat off balance. “They are really the first team to zone us for 38 minutes,” Fish said, “and you have to give Bill (Evans, ISU’s coach) and his staff credit. They had a great plan.”
Three-pointers by Ladan Ricketts and Harald Frey midway through the second half gave the Cats a three-point lead, and when Frey hit a short jumper with 8:21 to play the Cats were off and running. Devin Kirby converted a conventional three-point play, Hall hit a couple of triples and Frey hit another, and Keljin Blevins added one, to push MSU’s lead to 78-69. MSU closed the game out by making six straight free throws.
Brandon Boyd’s hot first half keyed the Bengals. He scored 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting, and dished out two assists. Kelvin Jones grabbed seven rebounds before the intermission for Idaho State, and the Bengals shot 9-for-10 from the line to MSU’s 5-for-10.
The start was sloppy, as both teams turned the ball over three times in the game’s first three-and-a-half minutes. Keljin Blevins’ conventional three-point play and a pair of layups by Boyd were the only points in that segment.
Tyler Hall made three triples in the first half, but Ladan Ricketts’ 11 points led the Cats at the break. Idaho State finished the half shooting 48% to MSU’s 43%.
Frey led the Bobcats with 21 points, while Blevins added 20 and Hall 17. Ricketts scored 18. Boyd scored 22 for ISU to lead all players.
Montana State moved its record to 12-12 overall, 9-5 in Big Sky play, and the Cats have won four of six league road games. Idaho State is 9-14, 5-9. The Cats play at Weber State on Saturday at 7 pm.