BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Montana State drained a season-best 13 three-pointers and shot .448 (13-29) from the arc on the way to a 70-55 victory over Sacramento State in the Big Sky Conference men's basketball opener for both teams Thursday evening at Worthington Arena.
The Bobcats knocked down seven 3-pointers in the first half and hit another six treys in the second half. In fact, Montana State opened the game on a 14-5 run and never trailed the entire way. Sacramento State closed to within three points on a pair of occasions at the 9:50 and 7:53 marks of the first half, but never got closer the rest of the way.
The Bobcats, who led, 35-25, at the half, used a 28-17 run to open the second half and take a game-high 21-point lead at 63-42 with 8:43 remaining.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 4-6 overall and 0-1 in the conference. The Hornets open the Big Sky season by playing four consecutive road games, including Saturday evening in Missoula against Montana at 6:05 p.m. PST. Montana State improved to 6-6 and 1-0 in the conference, and the Bobcats have now defeated Sacramento State in Bozeman seven times in the last eight meetings.
Montana State finished the game shooting .473 (26-55) from the field and .448 (13-29) from the 3-point line. Conversely, the Hornets shot .382 (21-55) from the floor and knocked down just six 3-pointers in 20 attempts (.300). Sacramento State did own a 35-31 advantage in the rebounding department and turned the ball over just nine times. However, the Hornets' perimeter defense had a tough time stopping Montana State, which had numerous open looks at 3-pointers throughout the contest.
Despite the loss, junior forward Zach Mills was a bright spot for the Hornets, scoring a season-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. The transfer from Irvine Valley College started his fourth straight game and eclipsed his previous season best of 10 points, set at UC Davis. Mills also tied his season high in both rebounds (7) and minutes played (30), and three of his rebounds were on the offensive glass.
Joining Mills in double figures for the Hornets was point guard Dylan Garrity, who notched 11 points (2-of-5 from distance) and three assists in a game-high 33 minutes. While Mills and Garrity combined to shoot 5-of-10 from the 3-point line, the rest of the squad was just 1-for-10 from distance.
Outside of Mills and Garrity, no other Hornet scored more than six points. Sophomore swingman Cody Demps had six points, six rebounds and two steals, forward Jordan Salley added six points, and true freshmen Nick Hornsby and Eric Stuteville both had six rebounds. Hornsby fouled out in just 18 minutes, marking the 10th time this season that a Sacramento State player has fouled out of a game.
Seven different Montana State players drained at least one 3-pointer, including Calen Coleman, Marcus Colbert and Stephan Holm who each knocked down three treys. Three Bobcats scored in double figures comprised of Coleman (13), Colbert (11) and Flavien Davis (10). Holm and Antonio Biglow both chipped in nine points. The Bobcats turned the ball over seven times as both teams combined for just 16 miscues in the contest.
NOTES - Montana State outscored Sacramento State in points off the bench by a 38-15 margin…the Hornets are now 0-6 when scoring below 69 points…Sacramento State lost for the first time this season when outrebounding an opponent (4-1).