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Montana State Bobcats nearly upset No. 17 Utah State in season opener

Posted: 11:01 PM, Nov 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-06 11:23:52-05
Caleb Bellach MSU MBB

(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics press release)

BOZEMAN -- One season after Montana State opened the season with a home loss to Utah State, the Bobcats nearly returned the favor on Tuesday. But the 17th-ranked Aggies shot and made 20 free throws more than Montana State in an 81-73 win that wasn’t sealed until the closing seconds.

Bobcat guard Harald Frey’s career high 34 points fueled MSU’s upset bid. His scoring outburst led all players, and he added six rebounds, five assists and a steal.

“Our shooting is something we pride ourselves on,” Frey said. “Our coach is one of the best shooters in school history. Shooting is something we work one each and every day, all of us. I think that will eventually open it up for our big guys as well.”

Bobcat coach Danny Sprinkle, in his debut leading the program he starred for 20 years earlier, saw his team use a second half a second-half spurt to lead for about six minutes of the second stanza. MSU trailed by just three in the final 20 seconds when Aggies guard Brock Miller hit a three-pointer to seal USU’s victory.

Utah State finished 35-for-45 from the free throw line, with reigning Mountain West Player of the Year Sam Merrill hitting 17 of his 18 charity tosses. The Cats finished 16-for-26 from the line. The Aggies out-rebounded MSU 41-to-36, but Sprinkle lauded his team’s rebounding. “Obviously we didn’t win the rebounding battle, that was our goal, but they had 10 offensive rebounds at halftime and we were better in the second half.”

Frey liked his team’s willingness to battle. “I thought we came out and competed our butts off,” he said. “We competed for the whole 40 minutes.”

The Bobcats, 0-1 on the season, host Rocky Mountain on Saturday at 4 pm in Worthington Arena.