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Montana State Bobcats give up late run in loss at Grand Canyon

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Posted at 10:21 AM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 12:21:07-05

(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)

PHOENIX – Montana State held a six-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining, but Grand Canyon found a spark offensively late which led to a 69-56 victory over the Bobcats at GCU Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 19. The loss for the MSU men's basketball team dropped the Bobcats to 4-2 overall and 3-1 on their road trip.

The Bobcats used a 10-2 run to pull ahead of the Antelopes, 54-48, behind a Jubrile Belo dunk with 6:50 on the clock. The seventh lead change of the game was made by MSU, but Grand Canyon took the eighth and final lead of the contest. The Lopes went on a 19-0 run that lasted over five minutes until a Quentin Guliford layup ended it with 1:17 remaining.

"We knew they were going to come out hard (to begin the second half)," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. "Eventually they were going to start making shots, they're a good team. I thought the first four minutes of the second half and the last five minutes of the half, that was the game. They came out and took the lead, we got it back because the zone slowed them down and got them out of rhythm, then the last six minutes they hit two or three big shots.

Grand Canyon used a 14-5 start to the second half to take a five-point lead, but Montana State responded with a 7-0 run of its own to start a streak of three lead changes between the two teams. The Lopes eventually put the game out of reach by going 4-for-6 during the late half run and hitting six free throws during the spans.

"We had some uncharacteristic turnovers," Sprinkle said. "We had 17 for the game and that led to 21 of their points which hurt us. They shot 18 of 21 from the free throw line so you have to give them credit. We were 8 of 15 and when you go on the road you can't miss free throws. With 17 turnovers and what we did on the free throw line, you're not going to win too many games against quality teams on the road."

The Bobcats went into halftime with a 30-28 lead. Grand Canyon jumped out to a 9-4 start, but an 11-1 MSU run put the 'Cats out front. MSU's largest advantage was a 22-14 score at the 5:47 mark of the first half.

Grand Canyon had a trio of double digit scorers led by Lorenzo Jenkins's 20 points. Jovan Blacksher Jr. recorded 10 assists for the Lopes as they improved to 2-3 overall.

Montana State held Grand Canyon to just 37.3 percent shooting from the field and 30.4 percent from the 3-point line, but the Lopes committed just four turnovers.

Sophomore Jubrile Belo scored a career-high 17 points for Montana State with 15 coming in the first half. Senior Harald Frey followed with 14 points and led MSU in rebounds (7) and assists (4).

"It was a great four games in five days," Sprinkle said. "I could see our guys start getting tired the last 10-12 minutes. That's going to happen. We traveled from the east coast back to the west coast and with the time changes, I'm proud of our guys for competing and taking a really good team in a hostile environment down to the end.

"I think we can learn a lot from four games in five days because this is how the Big Sky tournament is and this is something we can always refer back to."

Montana State returns home for three consecutive games in Worthington Arena. The Bobcats host Colorado Christian next on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m.