(Editor’s note: Montana State University athletics release)
BOZEMAN — Montana rode a 16-7 run that began midway through the second half to an 83-78 win over Montana State in Worthington Arena on Saturday.
Ahmaad Rorie scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds to pace the Grizzlies (15-6 overall, 8-2 Big Sky), while Michael Oguine added 17 points. Montana’s balanced attack countered a brilliant performance by senior guard Tyler Hall of Montana State (8-12 overall, 5-5 Big Sky). His 26 points led all players and marked his fourth 20-point game in seven matchups with the Grizzlies.
Montana scored on seven consecutive possessions when extending its lead, four of them from the free throw line, and Bobcat guard Harald Frey said defensive execution proved to be the difference. “I think it’s about consistency,” he said. “I think we fought really well. We brought energy. We just had certain lapses, made mistakes we shouldn’t make.”
The first half was an offensive affair played at a frenetic pace. When Rorie hit a three-pointer a couple ticks shy of eight minutes into the game, the Grizzlies led 26-16. About four minutes later, back-to-back dunks gave Montana a 33-21 advantage. The Bobcats fought back, and Tyler Hall’s three-pointer with just under six minutes left before halftime pulled the Cats within 36-33. The Bobcats scored on their final four possessions of the first half, and Ladan Ricketts’ triple at the buzzer gave the Bobcats their first lead since 2-0, 48-46.
Montana State shot 54.8% in the first half, while the Grizzlies hit exactly half their shots. In fact, UM did that in each half, finishing 25-for-50 from the floor on the game. Hall scored 21 first-half points.
Montana’s second-half surge coincided with a parade to the free throw line. Fouls stood close to even at halftime, with 13 whistles on UM and a dozen on the Cats, but that changed in the second half. While the Grizzlies got physical with Hall – who shot two free throws on the night – Montana benefited from 18 second-half charity tosses, making 13. Montana out-scored the Bobcats at the line 25-to-12.
Frey offered the Cats a semblance of offensive balance, scoring 15 points, 10 after halftime. He also dished out 10 assists to just two turnovers, and finished with a pair of steals. Devin Kirby added 10 points for MSU.
Montana State heads to Greeley, Co. for a Monday night matchup with Northern Colorado, who is tied with Montana atop the Big Sky. Tipoff is 7 pm.