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MONTANA STATE KNOCKS OFF MENâ€™S BASKETBALL
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana State had five players score at least nine points and limited Sacramento State to just 27.3 percent shooting from the field as the Bobcats knocked off the Hornets, 61-42, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at Worthington Arena.
Montana State used a 16-4 run spanning the final 10:54 of the first half to take a commanding 30-15 halftime lead. Sacramento State got no closer than within 13 points of MSU’s lead the rest of the night as the Hornets could not find the basket in the first half. In fact, the team opened the game by missing its first 10 field goal attempts, and would later miss its final 13 shots of the half. Sacramento State finished the half shooting .148 (4-27) from the field and the team’s 15 points were the second lowest output in a half this season (14 at Santa Clara).
After going into the break with a 30-15 lead, Montana State went on a 14-6 run to open the second half and take a game-high 23 point lead (44-21) with 15:33 remaining. The Bobcats cruised the rest of the way before settling on the 19-point margin of victory.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped its 10th straight game and fell to 1-15 overall and 0-3 in the Big Sky. The Hornets were playing the first of a three-game road trip that will see the team remain on the road for eight consecutive days. The Hornets dropped to 12-20 all-time against Montana State, including a 4-14 mark in Bozeman.
Montana State (8-6, 1-2) won for the third time in four games, while also winning its fifth straight at home. The Bobcats and Hornets were the lone remaining teams in the Big Sky without a conference win, and Montana State was able to take care of that tonight.
After being outscored by 15 points in the first half, the second half was played fairly even as Montana State outscored Sacramento State, 31-27 in the second stanza. The Hornets, who shot just 27.3 percent (15-55) for the game, recorded their second-lowest scoring output of the season and second-lowest field goal percentage. Junior Justin Eller’s three-pointer with 3:06 remaining was the Hornets’ only trey of the game and extended the team’s streak of consecutive games with at least one-three-pointer to 420 dating back to 1993.
Montana State shot 41.2 percent (21-51) from the field, and 43.5 percent (10-23) from the three-point line. Sacramento State outrebounded the Bobcats, 40-38 (including 15 offensive rebounds), but could manage just nine second-chance points.
Montana State was led by Erik Rush (12 points), Will Bynum (11), Bobby Howard (9), Marquis Navarre (9) and Branden Johnson (9). Center Divaldo Mbunga had 10 rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots as he either blocked or altered Sacramento State post player shots all night. In fact, Hornet centers Randy Adams (1-for-9) and Justin Eller (3-for-12) combined to shoot just 4-of-21 from the field.
Sacramento State was led by Eller’s 11 points, five rebounds and one steal. Junior Donald Thomas finished with 10 points and a career-high tying eight rebounds, and Mike Edwards added six points. No other Hornet scored more than four, as Antonio Flaggs, who entered the game as the team’s third-leading scorer, was held scoreless. Seven different Hornets had at least three rebounds, including Adams’ five boards.
The Hornets’ final shooting totals consisted of 27.3 percent (15-55) from the field, 11.1 percent (1-9) from the three-point line and 61.1 percent (11-18) from the free throw line.
The Hornets resume their eight-day road trip when the team travels to Missoula on Saturday, Jan. 10, for a game at Montana, at 6:05 p.m. PST. The Hornets conclude the trip at Northern Colorado on Tuesday, Jan. 13. Both games can be seen live and free on www.bigskytv.org.
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