Some teams live and die by the 3-pointer, but Montana State has done a whole lot more living from long range this season.
The Bobcats' were dialed in again on Saturday, hitting 13 3-pointers on the way to an 82-74 victory over Northern Colorado at Worthington Arena in Bozeman. Five different players -- led by Michael Dison's 4-for-5 performance -- combined to score 39 points from beyond the arc.
"It's a strength for this team," said sixth year MSU coach Brad Huse. "We've got a lot of different guys that can make them. So I think we're always going to be capable of making them, and not just relying on one or two guys. We've got plenty of guys who can step out and do that."
Guard Christian Moon has been the ringleader of the Cats' long distance parade. Moon is hitting 42 percent of his 3-pointers, and his 39 makes are the fourth-most in the Big Sky Conference.
Elsewhere, Xavier Blount and Shawn Reid have each hit 21 3's, while Dison has made 15 and Rod Singleton has knocked down 13. As a team the Bobcats have cashed 127 3-pointers in 18 games for an average of more than seven a night, the third-highest total in the Big Sky. In all, MSU is shooting 37 percent from 3-point range, which also ranks third in the league.
As a result, the Cats are the third-highest scoring team in the conference at 72.7 points per game. And they got off to a quick start against UNC, which Huse said played a big role in the win.
"We came out with good focus and energy, and you have to do that in conference games," Huse said.
The Bobcats won two games last week and have won three in a row. Their other victory was a 72-65 triumph over Sacramento State on Thursday. MSU is now 10-8 overall and 5-2 in the Big Sky, which is good for third place in the league standings.
Montana guard Will Cherry has long been known as one of the best defensive players in the Big Sky, but the junior put on a clinic last week, helping the Grizzlies to a pair of blowout victories.
Cherry had a combined five steals as UM beat Northern Colorado 76-58 on Thursday and topped Sacramento State 85-56 on Saturday, increasing his career total to 183. Cherry's swipe total currently ranks 12th in Big Sky history, and he needs just three more to surpass Boise State's Doug Usitalo, who totaled 185 steals from 1986-88.
In all, Montana had 15 steals and forced 28 turnovers in the victory over UNC.
Cherry poured in 27 points against the Bears, and had 12 more in the win over Sac State. He now has 972 career points, needing just 28 more to become the second active Big Sky Conference player to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
Katie Bussey has a little more flash and a bit more swagger, which essentially makes her the main attraction for the Montana State women's basketball team. But the Bobcats (13-6 overall, 5-2 Big Sky) wouldn't be where they are -- in second place in the conference standings -- without the dirty work of power forward Rachel Semansky.
The junior from Highwood averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds in MSU's two victories last weekend, shooting 47 percent from the floor and 90 percent from the foul line.
Semansky scored 10 second-half points in a down-to-the-wire, 52-51 win at UNC on Saturday. She also had five rebounds in the final 20 minutes. At Sac State two days prior, Semansky posted her fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 boards.
Semansky, currently averaging 14.1 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds per game, was named the College Sports Madness Big Sky women's player of the week. College Sports Madness identifies the highest-impact players from each conference nationally.
IT'S ODUM AGAIN
Portland State guard Charles Odum garnered the men's player of the week award for the second consecutive week after leading the Vikings to two league wins.
Odum scored a career-best 29 points in an 80-60 victory over Idaho State on Monday, and then came back with a 20-point effort in a 78-76 overtime triumph at Eastern Washington on Saturday. He hit the game-winning shot with two seconds remaining to beat the Eagles.
Odum currently ranks second in the Big Sky in scoring at 18.3 points per game. In league contests, Odum averages 21.1 points per game while shooting 59.7 percent.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Eastern Washington's Carrie Ojeda took home the Big Sky women's player of the week honor on Monday. Ojeda had 18 points and 10 rebounds in a 75-67 victory over Portland State on Saturday. ... Weber State's Damian Lillard scored his 1,600th career point in an 81-67 win over Northern Arizona on Thursday. Lillard moved into 19th place on the Big Sky's all-time scoring list with 1,601 career points. ... Weber State's men are just the fourth Big Sky team in the last decade to win its first seven conference games. The three previous teams all won the regular-season conference title and hosted the Big Sky Championship tournament. ... Portland State women's standout Courtney VanBrocklin ranks second in NCAA Division I in free-throw shooting at 92.4 percent. VanBrocklin averages 14.4 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Big Sky.