(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Montana State held Appalachian State to just 34.4 percent shooting while the Bobcats made crucial plays late in the second half to defeat the Mountaineers, 59-56, in Fleming Gymnasium on Friday.
Montana State (2-1) and Appalachian State (2-2) battled back and forth before the Bobcats seized control of the contest. Ladan Ricketts hit a baseline jumper with 7 minutes, 28 seconds remaining to tie the game up at 42 and start a 10-0 Bobcat run. Over 90 seconds ran off the clock before a Jubrile Belo dunk put MSU up for good. Harald Frey followed with two consecutive 3-pointers to give Montana State a 50-42 advantage with 2:52 remaining.
The Mountaineers cut the deficit to 3 on three occasions before the final buzzer, but the Bobcats were clutch down the stretch from the free throw line. Despite starting the game 1-for-7 from the charity stripe, MSU hit eight of its last nine attempts from the line – with Amin Adamu hitting all six of his attempts in the final minute of play – to put the game out of reach.
"I'm super proud and happy for our guys," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. "The way they competed, we knew we'd face some adversity and they did. But we responded. I was most proud of the way we controlled our emotions because there were times our guys could have blown up. Whether it was bad calls, missed free throws or missed rebounds, just all those little things. But our guys kept fighting. I'm super proud of the effort they showed."
The Bobcats jumped out to an 8-0 lead to begin the contest. MSU held the lead for almost the entire first half before App State's Adrian Delph hit a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to put the Mountaineers up 25-24 at halftime.
MSU used a strong defensive effort to pick up its first road victory of the season. The Mountaineers' field goal percentage was 10 percent less than any of their previous three games, while App State was also held to just 3 of 19 (15.8%) from the 3-point line. Despite Justin Forrest scoring a game-high 27 points for Appalachian State, MSU held him in check forcing him to shoot less than 40 percent (8-22). Hunter Seacat contributed with 10 points for the Mountaineers.
This was the first time since Jan. 14, 2017, the Bobcats held an opponent to less than 60 points.
"Defensively we did a great job with the game plan of trying to shrink the floor and make them try to make jump shots to beat us," Sprinkle said. "That's going to have to be our calling card all year if we want to keep winning."
Frey led a trio of Bobcats in double digits with 16 while he was followed by Devin Kirby (12) and Adamu (10). Frey had a team-high five assists and Belo grabbed an MSU-best seven rebounds.
Montana State returns to action at the Spartan Invitational on Saturday, Nov. 16, when the Bobcats take on host UNCG in Fleming Gymnasium at 4 p.m. MDT.