(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN — Junior guard Harald Frey scored 30 points and Tyler Hall added 18 to lead Montana State to an 84-73 win over Northern Arizona in Bozeman on Saturday.
Frey added six rebounds, six assists and four steals to his stat line, but his impact was felt far more on hardwood than paper. Montana State held a slim 28-24 lead with just under five minutes left in the first half, when the Cats turned the ball over four straight times. Coming out of that stretch with a one-point lead, Frey took over. He hit a three-pointer with 2:51 to play to push the lead to four, then hit another to give MSU a 34-27 lead. The Bobcats closed the half on a 9-3 run to grab a 37-30 lead.
“I thought Harry really took the game over there,” said Bobcat coach Brian Fish, “and that gave (the team) confidence at halftime. But I thought Lassi (Nikkarinen) and Russ (Daniels) were very good in there, too. We had a lot of guys step up to give us a seven-point halftime lead.”
That lead was never seriously threatened. NAU pulled within three on a Carlos Hines three-pointer five-and-a-half minutes into the second half, and within four two other times. The last was on another Hines triple at 4:49, by Frey answered with a three-pointer, Keljin Blevins thundered a dunk, and when Frey and Hall hit back-to-back treys the Cats had pushed the lead to 12 and sealed the win.
The fast finish countered a slow start. “Especially in the first half we started very slow for our part,” Frey said. “We were good in stretches, but we did some things we don’t work on, we made some dumb plays. But we found a way to win, and that’s what good teams do.”
Luke Avdalovic scored 24 points to lead the Lumberjacks, getting 15 of those before halftime. “Their roll and replace really killed us,” Hall said. “We worked on that all week, but they run it well.” The Cats struggled to keep NAU forward Bernie Andre off the boards, and his season-high 18 rebounds – six on the offensive end – helped NAU to 28 points in the paint and a dozen second chance points. Hines scored 16 points for the Jacks, and Cameron Shelton added 14.
But the Bobcats countered with too much firepower. Frey notched his third 30-point game this season, Hall added 18, and Devin Kirby a dozen points. MSU out-rebounded Northern Arizona 41-to-35, and while the Cats turned the ball over 16 times NAU’s total was a season-high matching 19.
Montana State’s win raised the team’s record to 13-14 overall, 10-7 in Big Sky play. The Bobcats close the home portion of their schedule Monday against Southern Utah, Senior Night for Tyler Hall, Sam Neumann, Keljin Blevins and Usman Haruna. Northern Arizona, now 9-19 overall and 7-11 in the league, plays at Montana on Monday.