Third time no charm for MSU men, eliminated 79-75 - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Third time no charm for MSU men, eliminated 79-75

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Reno, NV -

Justin Strings scored 25 points and Cody Demps, who missed the two regular season games in the series won by Montana State, added 15 to pace Sacramento State to a 79-75 win over the Bobcats in Reno on Tuesday. The Bobcats had beaten Sac State in this season's previous two meetings.

The opening round Big Sky Conference Tournament loss ended Montana State’s season. Sac State advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals against Montana.

The Hornets used physical play on defense to force the Cats into their second-worst three-point shooting game of the season. “We took 28 three-pointers and without watching film I thought probably 24 of them were good shots,” said MSU coach Brian Fish. “(Sacramento State) came out and played with good toughness. I thought that was an emphasis for them.”

The Hornets established physical play early. Nick Hornsby missed a jumper for Sac State on the game’s first possession, but Strings gobbled up the rebound and laid it in. The Hornets grabbed offensive rebounds on their first three possessions of the game, and turned two into baskets.

That extended to the offensive end for Montana State, as well. “They got us on our toes and settling a little too much,” Fish said. “We shot too many jumpers instead of driving to the basket and getting to the (free throw) line.”

MSU hit just six of its 28 three-point attempts, the second-worst game of the season and the worst against a Big Sky opponent. Guard Marcus Colbert and forward Quinton Everett each missed all five of their treys, while Tyler Hall was 1-for-6.

After struggling early, the Bobcats battled back. Sarp Gobeloglu’s trey at 7:23 gave MSU a 22-20 lead, and the Cats didn’t trail again until a late Hornets burst to close the half. With the Cats leading 29-27, Strings hit a layup at 1:52 and followed that with a trey. Hall’s layup with 49 seconds remaining set MSU up with a chance for a two-for-one close to the half, but Marcus Graves converted a layup and after Colbert’s turnover Demps ended the half with a layup to give MSU a 36-31 at the break.

The Bobcats never led again, but Sac State didn’t get away, either. The teams traded punches throughout the second 20 minutes, but MSU  trailed by two after Hall’s layup with 2:40 to play. But a free throw by Demps and a triple by Strings pushed the lead to 72-66, and the Cats never again possessed the ball with the opportunity to tie.

The game closed Colbert’s terrific career. The senior guard finished with 16 points on the night and 1,372 for his career, 11th-most in school history. His five assists give him 453 total, second-most by a Bobcat. Danny Robison also finished his career, getting four points and five rebounds.

“I want to thank Marcus and Danny for everything they’ve done for this program,” Fish said. “They put so much of themselves into Bobcat Basketball, and we’ll benefit from the tone they set for a long time.”

Tyler Hall closed the first chapter of his Bobcat story with a team-high 17 points and eight boards. He is the all-time scoring (578) and rebounding (163) leader at Montana State.

The Cats finish Brian Fish’s second year at MSU with a 14-17 record, a seven-win improvement over last season.

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