(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
CEDAR CITY, Utah – Southern Utah used a 12-0 run midway through the second half to retake the lead and held off Montana State late for a 59-53 victory on Saturday, Jan. 4, in Big Sky Conference men's basketball at the America First Event Center.
The first half was a defensive stalemate. Both teams shot 23% from the field as Montana State took a 21-17 advantage into the halftime break.
The Bobcats got out to a strong start in the second half. MSU jumped out to a 33-23 lead, its largest of the game, after a Harald Frey jumper at the 14:38 mark. The Bobcats led 37-29 before the Thunderbirds put together their biggest run of the contest.
Five T-Birds combined to score 12 consecutive points for Southern Utah which used a 12-0 stretch over a 5:26 span to take a 41-37 lead with 7:25 to go.
Montana State continued to battle. The 'Cats tied the game at 41 on a Mychael Paulo 3-pointer and Harald Frey hit two free throws to put MSU back up, 43-41, with a little over five minutes remaining.
Southern Utah tied the game up on its next possession and went back into the lead for good after an MSU turnover led to a fast break dunk by Maizen Fausett. The T-Birds got up by as many as six points with 1:32 to play before the 'Cats cut the deficit to 52-51 with 55 seconds left on the clock. An and-one finish for Fausett and four John Knight III free throws sealed the game for SUU.
Both defenses had strong efforts Saturday. Southern Utah outshot Montana State 32.7-27.1% and topped the Bobcats from the free throw line going 20-for-25 compared to MSU's 17 of 24 clip. Both teams committed less than 10 turnovers while MSU had a 38-35 edge on the boards.
Frey scored a game-high 14 points. The Bobcat senior guard was joined by Amin Adamu (12) and Ladan Ricketts (10) in double digits. Adamu grabbed nine rebounds while Frey and Borja Fernandez had three assists apiece.
Southern Utah had three score in double digits, led by Fausett's 13-point and 10-rebound double-double performance.
Montana State takes on the Vandals on Thursday, Jan. 9, in Moscow, Idaho. The Bobcats return home to Worthington Arena on Jan. 11 to host Portland State with tipoff set for 6 p.m.