Montana State

Hall breaks records, Bobcats beat Washington State for first Pac 12 win since 2011


The only thing that could overshadow Montana State toppling a Pac 12 foe would be Tyler Hall breaking a pair of hallowed records

The only thing that could overshadow Hall breaking Jeremy Senglin’s Big Sky Conference record for 3-pointers made in a career or Larry Chanay’s MSU career scoring record would be Montana State knocking off a Pac 12 opponent for the first time under Brian Fish.

Montana State got to celebrate both on Sunday evening in Kennewick, Washington.

Hall drilled a 3-pointer with 10 minutes, 12 seconds left, his 346th triple of his decorated and prolific career. That shot also gave Hall 2,035 career points, helping him break Chanay’s record, a mark that has stood since 1960.

Harald Frey scored seven of his career-high 31 points in the final two minutes, including hitting five of six free throws in the final minute to help Montana State post a 95-90 win over Wazzu in a neutral site non-conference game Sunday evening in the Tri-Cities.

Montana State guard Tyler Hall (3) shoots over Utah State guard Sam Merrill (5)/by Brooks Nuanez

“To win basketball games, you’ve got to do the little things and I think we did some of the little things and were a scrappy group today,” said Fish, an assistant at Oregon for four years before taking the head job at Montana State before the 2014-15 season.

“I’m so proud of these guys for finding a way to win. I thought everybody contributed.”

The last time Montana State beat a Pac 12 opponent: in 2011 when Brad Huse led the Bobcats past Larry Krystkowiak, his old boss, and the Utah Utes on Cat-Griz football weekend. Huse was an assistant on Krystkowiak’s staff at Montana before taking the MSU job.

Hall’s fifth made 3-pointer cut Washington State’s lead to 71-70. Hall’s sixth triple gave him 24 points and put him two clear of Senglin, pushing Montana State’s lead to 79-75 with 5:43 left.

“You know what brings me joy? Coming off the floor, he’s the one jumping around, so happy we won,” Fish said. “He’s a very unassuming kid, sometimes to a fault but he’s all about winning. At the end of the day, to see him so happy that we won, that’s what means the world to me.”

Montana State shot 57 percent in the second half to pull away after the game went to halftime tied at 43 behind Frey’s 18 points the first 20 minutes.

Montana State guard Harald Frey (5)/by Brooks Nuanez

Coming off a nine-day break to play a game that serves as the only contest with another nine-day break to follow, Montana State looked sharp, rested and efficient. Playing without the services of senior power forward Keljin Blevins, the Bobcats still won the battle of the boards, 36-31.

Montana State moved the ball crisply all night thanks to the penetration and passing of Frey, who hit 6-of-11 shots from behind the arc to pace a Bobcat shooting barrage that included 16 made 3-pointers. Frey also dished out 10 of MSU’s 21 assists. Hall, who went 9-of-19 from the floor, added five assists.

When you haven’t played in nine days, I didn’t think we had the attack there early,” Fish said. “We got out-rebounded offensively – I think they had five the first seven minutes of the game and we were waiting. That’s from a layoff. But once we got adjusted to the game and got into it, I thought we were way better, more aggressive, more in strike mode. I thought the ball movement was really good.”

“Harry had 10 assists and we had 21 assists against a very long and athletic team,” Fish said. “I thought when we got in trouble was when we were passive but when we got in the gaps and attacked, we got our teammates involved.”

Ladan Rickets hit 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc and all six of his free throws to score 18 points, a career high. Devin Kirby scored 10 points as the Bobcats got 88 points from its starting lineup.

“We’ve opened up our offense,” Fish said. “At times when we were really good, we were gapping it and jump stopping and making plays. I thought that was really good. Guys stepped up and shot with confidence.”

The win is Montana State’s second straight, marking the first time since January the Bobcats have won twice in a row. MSU is now 3-6 this season with its unorthodox non-conference schedule winding down.

Montana State head coach Brian Fish with guard Tyler Hall/by Brooks Nuanez

MSU posted an 81-76 win over North Dakota on November 27 in the only home game in 55-day span to end the calendar year. MSU’s first game of December wielded a neutral court victory over a team from a Power 5 conference. Now MSU takes off until December 18 for finals week. Nine days from Sunday, Montana State plays at Denver in the final non-conference game of the season.

MSU opens Big Sky Conference play at Southern Utah on December 29.

“I think we are growing as a group,” Fish said. “I think this team is growing as a group. I keep thinking this team is going to be a good team at some point. But sometimes, when you take a test you have to go from doing your homework to passing the test. Tonight we passed a test and made a big stride.”

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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