MOSCOW, Idaho — The Montana State men’s basketball team continues to thrive as Tyler Hall inches closer to the Big Sky Conference’s career scoring record.
The Bobcats kept intact their strong start to the Big Sky schedule with a 77-67 road victory over Idaho on Thursday at the Cowan Spectrum. The win pushed MSU’s league record to 4-1 and its overall mark to 7-8.
Montana State led from start to finish and was again paced by the guard combo of Hall and Harald Frey. Hall finished with 20 points on 8-of-20 shooting. He pulled down seven rebounds and added four assists.
Hall, a senior from Rock Island, Illinois, now has 2,143 career points, which puts him 27 points shy of breaking the league’s all-time record set just last season by former Eastern Washington standout Bogdan Bliznyuk.
Frey, a junior from Oslo, Norway, had 19 points and shot 7 for 7 from the foul line while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out seven assists. Frey’s jumper with 3:01 to go gave MSU its biggest lead, 71-57.
The Bobcats were better offensively in the second half than the first.
“Tyler started making some shots late, and Harry was able to close it out from the free throw line,” coach Brian Fish said in a postgame statement released by MSU.
The Bobcats began the season by winning just one of their first seven games but have since prevailed in six of eight, including four of their first five Big Sky contests. Thursday’s win was MSU’s first on the road against Idaho in five tries.
Montana State again won the rebounding battle, 38-31, and scored 14 second-chance points. The Bobcats made 8 of 27 3-point attempts but compensated with 32 points in the paint while turning the ball over only seven times.
Fish seemed most happy with his team’s defensive performance, which limited Idaho to 31 percent shooting in the first half.
“It’s been a while since we’ve won a game with defense,” Fish said in the MSU release. “Idaho runs as much stuff (offensively) as anyone in the league, and to guard it all is hard. I thought the key was that we won methodically and by playing hard. I thought that was a key.”
Backup guard Lassi Nikkarinen played 20 minutes off the bench, scoring seven points and turning the ball over just once. Starters Keljin Blevins and Devin Kirby combined for 16 points for the Bobcats.
Idaho (4-12, 1-4 Big Sky) was led by Trevon Allen’s 23 points. RayQuawndis Mitchell added 15 and made four 3-pointers.
MSU will host Northern Colorado on Monday at Worthington Arena in Bozeman.
NOTES: Guard Russell Daniels returned to the MSU lineup Thursday night after sitting out three games with an upper body injury. Daniels scored two points in nine minutes.