(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
PORTLAND, Oregon – Portland State hit 13 3-pointers, taking advantage of a Montana State team playing its fourth game in eight days to earn an 84-80 win over the Bobcats in Portland on Saturday.
The win leaves Montana State, Portland State and Weber State tied for fourth in the Big Sky at 11-9. The Cats enter next week’s league tournament as the sixth seed.
Tyler Hall finished with 28 points to lead the Bobcats, while Harald Frey scored 27. It was Frey’s free throws with 4:42 to play that tied the game at 74. The Bobcats didn’t make another basket until Hall’s runner with 10.3 seconds to play drew the Cats within 82-77. The 8-1 Vikings run in that period sealed PSU’s win.
“It all came down to (Portland State) getting multiple possessions and they hit four threes off of offensive rebounds,” said Bobcats coach Brian Fish. “That was such a point of emphasis. We’ve got to be better than that.”
The game was close throughout the second half. Neither team led by more than six points. Each team shot 38 percent after halftime. Portland State’s six 3-pointers to MSU’s five proved to be a mathematical difference – the Vikings held MSU to nine on the evening – but Fish said the real difference was rebounding. Portland State out-rebounded the Bobcats 38-to-37, but on the offensive end the tally was 18 for the home team, which led to 22 second chance points. MSU’s 11 offensive rebounds led to just 11 second chance points.
“We competed,” he said. “I’m so proud of how they competed. But we’ve got to finish it out. Their 22 put-back points to our 11 was the difference in the ballgame. We knew that. It’s got to become important.”
The pace of the first half wasn’t as frenetic as Portland State prefers, but the Vikings controlled play for most of the stanza by controlling the boards. The Vikings built a double-digit lead, 34-23 at 6:18 on a Robert McCoy 3-pointer. At that point PSU held a 13-to-11 rebounding edge with five second-chance points.
But the Cats finished with a flourish, evening the battle of the boards at 20 to close the half. PSU still had the Bobcats doubled up on put-back points, 8-4, but MSU hit seven of its last nine shots in the half. When Harald Frey nailed a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds to play to cap a 9-1 run, MSU had pulled within 42-41. MSU shot 50 percent in the first half, 13-for-26, to Portland State’s 40.5 percent (15-for-37).
Montana State finishes the regular season 14-16 overall, 11-9 in conference play. Portland State’s 16-15 mark also resulted in an 11-9 league record. The Bobcats play 11th-seeded Idaho on Wednesday at approximately 2:30 p.m. in Boise at the My Place Big Sky Tournament. 5th-seeded Portland State faces 4th-seeded Weber State on Thursday.