Big Sky Conference

Cold shooting dooms Bobcats at UND

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Tyler Hall had a chance to halt the skid but his game-winning attempt sailed long in Grand Forks.

Montana State’s star continues to struggle and his team continues reeling as the second half of the Big Sky Conference season commenced in North Dakota. MSU forced a turnover with nine seconds to play trailing by one. Hall, the league’s preseason MVP and an NBA prospect, got a contested look from the left wing but his 3-point try ended up long.

The rebound landed in MSU senior Joe Mvuezolo’s hands but the buzzer sounded, helping the defending Big Sky champions secure a 75-74 victory over the Bobcats on Thursday night.

Montana State guard Tyler Hall (3) looks for space vs. North Dakota/by Brooks Nuanez

Hall finished 1-of-11 from the floor and scored just six points as Montana State lost for the fifth time in six outings following a 4-0 start to league play. MSU is now 12-11 overall.

Dale Jones, a graduate transfer from Iowa, hit three 3-pointers and scored a team-high 18 points to go with eight rebounds to pace the Fighting Hawks. Point guard Geno Crandall scored 17 points and dished out six assists, wing Cortez Seales scored 12 points and dished out three of UND’s 16 assists and Conner Avants scored 10 points as UND moved to 4-6 in league play, 11-10 overall.

MSU fell behind 38-33 at halftime by shooting 35 percent before the break. Montana State opened the second half on a 14-0 run to take the league but couldn’t hold off the Fighting Hawks mostly due to an inability to knock down open shots.

Montana State finished 22-of-57 (38.6 percent), including just 4-of-23 from beyond the arc. MSU hit 26-of-30 free throws, including all five for point guard Harald Frey, who finished with a game-high 21 points despite making just two of his nine 3-point attempts. Keljin Bleinvs scored 14 points and senior Zach Green chipped in 10 points but it wasn’t enough.

Montana State head coach Brian Fish coaching forward Keljin Blevins (2)/by Brooks Nuanez

“They jumped on us early but after that, I thought we guarded and we played really hard that second half and attacking them,” MSU fourth-year head coach Brian Fish said. “We were bit by that not being able to make a shot again. We were 4-of-23 from 3 and we got good looks, we just didn’t knock them down.”

MSU is shooting 42 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc in league play. Montana State fell to 5-5 in league play despite owning a 43-30 advantage on the glass.

“We are getting good shots, it will go,” Fish said. “We are in a funk right now making shots. The ball kept moving and we are getting looks. We just have to keep attacking and moving. We got to the line 30 times, we made our free throws and we dominated the boards and did a lot of really good things we wanted to do. We have to get back in the gym, get shots up and they will start falling.”

Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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