BOZEMAN — In a matchup of depleted teams, the squad with the most remaining pieces ran away with the win.
North Dakota exerted more second-half magic, closing the game on a 41-18 run to grab an 82-73 road win over Montana State in Bozeman on Thursday. UND, playing without starter Josh Schuler, turned MSU’s 17 turnovers in 24 points. The Bobcats were without its starting frontcourt Thursday – center Paul Egwuonwu and power forward Flavien Davis.
“It’s not an excuse,” said Brad Huse of his short-handed team. “We shot a good percentage tonight, but we didn’t guard them as well as we’d like to. They’re talented.”
Montana State rode its hot shooting to a double-digit second half lead, holding onto a 55-41 lead with just under 11 minutes left. But for the second straight road game UND was able to battle through the deficit and earn a road win. UND wing Troy Huff led all players with 25 points, while guards Aaron Anderson (17), Jamal Webb (12) and Shane Benton (13) contributed double-digits scoring. Those four scored 67 of the team’s 82 points.
“They scored 80 on us in Grand Forks,” Huse said. “It’s disappointing that we’re looking at that again.”
While the Bobcats shot its best percentage against a Division I opponent this season, and even managed to stay within two rebounds of UND without two of the team’s three inside players, the 17 turnovers did the team in. “We had 17 turnovers,” Huse said. “They had a lot of steals. Fifteen of them were steals. They were the aggressor defensively.”
The teams traded punches throughout the first half, with UND landing the last. The Bobcats led 34-29 with the ball in the last 10 seconds, but an MSU turnover led to a Huff layup that sent the teams to the locker rooms with Bobcats holding a 34-31 lead. The Bobcats built their second-half lead on the strength of hot three-point shooting. Xavier Blount hit a pair and Christian Moon added one in the first six minutes of the second half.
But UND battled back. Benton (two) and Anderson each hit threes to begin the comeback, and in the game’s final seven minutes converted five and-one situations.
Montana State falls to 10-11 on the season, while UND is 10-12. Each team stands 7-6 in league play. The Bobcats host Northern Colorado Saturday at 7:05 pm.
— MSU Sports Information