(Editor's note: Montana State University media releases)
Montana State men 69, Portland State 64
BOZEMAN -- Montana State put together another strong second half effort to complete a 69-64 victory over Portland State on Saturday, Jan. 16, in Worthington Arena.
The Bobcats improved to 7-3 overall which is the men's basketball program's best 10-game start since the 1997-98 season. MSU's 4-0 mark in Big Sky play after the regular season sweep of the Vikings matches its four-game start to the 2017-18 league schedule.
MSU rallied from a second-half deficit for the third time in its previous four games. Trailing 37-31 at halftime, Amin Adamu converted on two straight field goals and Abdul Mohamed followed with two points of his own to tie things up at 37. Both teams exchanged free throws and PSU's John Hall drained a 3-pointer before Montana State started its biggest scoring run of the contest.
A Jubrile Belo dunk, Tyler Patterson 3-pointer, Borja Fernandez jumper and Xavier Bishop layup made up a 9-0 Bobcat run over a nearly 4-minute span that put the Bobcats up 48-42 with 12:10 remaining.
Montana State wouldn't trail again.
Portland State forced the margin into a one-possession game on two occasions, but Bishop drew Viking fouls on each ensuing time up the floor and spread out the scoring margin from the free throw line.
Montana State out-shot Portland State from the field (42.2%-36.1%), but the Vikings hung in the contest behind a 43-30 edge on the boards. MSU forced the Viks into 18 turnovers while the 'Cats committed 13. The Bobcats also held a considerable advantage from the charity stripe, going 25-for-36 (69.4%) on their opportunities. The Vikings were just 10 of 17 (58.8%) from the free throw line.
The Bobcats outscored the Vikings 38-27 during the second half.
"I thought we started to get some stops," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said of the team's second half play. "I thought we did a really good job of guarding the basketball and keeping them in front of us. They kind of hurt us doing that last game. We changed up our coverages on their guards because they're just so fast and athletic. We switched a lot of stuff in order to keep them in front and made them shoot jump shots. I thought that helped us and they didn't make as many shots as last game.
"They got a lot of long rebounds, but as long as they weren't getting easy shots in the paint, that helped us."
Bishop led the way in the scoring column for the Bobcats scoring 22 points. He went 11 of 15 from the free throw line while snagging five rebounds and dishing out three assists. JBelo recorded a second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Adamu registered 12 points and Patterson made a team-high 3 3-pointers.
"That's what you need in conference, your seniors need to carry you the last 7-8 minutes of the game and I thought they did that," Sprinkle said. "I thought we got to the free throw line pretty well, even though we didn't shoot it as well as we would have liked, we still put pressure on them and got them into foul trouble where at least we were shooting two (free throws) instead of one at the line."
Portland State fell to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in league action. A trio of Viks scored in double digits led by James Scott's 15 points. Scott also had six assists while Khalid Thomas had seven rebounds.
Montana State's next three contests take place on the road. The Bobcats are next set to face Northern Arizona for a back-to-back series of games beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Flagstaff.
Portland State women 72, Montana State 70
PORTLAND, Ore. -- In a game that featured ten lead changes and nine ties it was Portland State that made the plays down the stretch to post a 72-70 victory over Montana State on Saturday afternoon in Viking Pavilion.
Trailing 65-63 with two minutes, 39 seconds remaining Montana State (5-5, 2-2) had possession. Portland State’s (4-4, 3-3) Nakia Boston intercepted the pass on the in-bounds and converted an uncontested layup to the give the Vikings a four-point advantage. It proved to give PSU just enough wiggle room to hold the lead in the waning moments as the Vikings connected on five-of-six from the line in the final 13-seconds to secure the victory.
“We had a hard time getting stops,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “I’m happy we scored 70 points, but we can’t afford to give up 72. I think consistency is our biggest weakness right now. If you want to go from good to great you have to repeatedly do the things it takes to win.”
The Bobcats struggled with transition defense as the Vikings outscored MSU 15-2 in fastbreak points.
Offensively, MSU had another balanced attack as Tori Martell posted a team-high 20 points, including a six-of-eight effort from three-point range. Gabby Mocchi and Lexi Deden did the job down low notching 18 and 15 points, respectively. Both were career-highs. In addition, Mocchi and Deden combined to shot 58.3% from the field.
“Gabby’s been our most consistent post player,” Binford said. “And we got Lexi to slow down and square-up and she had a nice weekend.”
After shooting just 30% in the opening quarter, PSU went 51.3% from the field in the final three periods. The Vikings finished shooting 46.2%, while MSU hit at a 43.3% clip.
MSU won the boards outrebounding PSU for the second straight game 34-30. The Bobcats were paced under the glass by Darian White with seven rebounds, while Martell added six. White also recorded a game-high eight assists and added two steals.
Desirae Hansen led the Vikings with 20 points.
Montana State will host Northern Arizona, Thursday, Jan 21 at 7:05 p.m. in Worthington Arena.