GAME NOTES: A pair of Big Sky teams trying to avoid three-game slides get together at Reed Gym in Pocatello tonight, as the Idaho State Bengals entertain the Montana State Bobcats.
Idaho State, which is 5-2 at home this season when playing in either Reed Gym or Holt Arena, hosted Montana in this facility just two nights ago and ended up on the wrong side of a 59-54 final. The defeat was the fourth in the last five outings, with the lone win during the stretch coming against a Southern Utah program that has not defeated a single Division I opponent all season long.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats have also dropped back-to-back league decisions and three of the last four overall, following an 86-57 blowout to Weber State on the road Thursday night. Nevertheless, Montana State is still 4-3 in conference play and that has the team tied for fourth place in the standings entering the weekend.
Montana State is ahead in the all-time series by a count of 104-82, although the Bengals have shown signs of live the last decade or so with 17 wins in 28 opportunities.
Against a powerful Weber State group, the Bobcats shot only 36.8 percent from the field, including 3-of-12 beyond the arc, falling behind at the opening jump and never showing the ability to recover. Paul Egwuonwu tallied 14 points to lead the MSU offense, followed by Marcus Colbert with 10 points in the losing cause. Defensively, the Bobcats allowed Weber State to make good on 62.2 percent from the floor, which included a 10-of-22 effort behind the 3- point line.
Despite being held to single digits two nights ago, Flavien Davis is still the leading scorer for the Bobcats with 11.8 ppg. In fact, Davis is the only player on the roster averaging in double figures through 17 contests, of which he has started only 10. As a group, Montana State spreads the wealth as it generates 72.4 ppg, while holding the opposition to 69.2 ppg.
Idaho State led by as many as 10 in the second half against Montana on Thursday night, but the hosts ended up with a mere eight field goals in the period. Tomas Sanchez tallied 13 points on just 4-of-13 shooting from the field, followed by Chris Hansen with 12 points and both Andre Hatchett and Evann Hall 11 in the losing cause.
Over the course of 16 games this season, Hansen is the leading scorer for the Bengals with his 16.7 ppg, thanks in large part to his 42.0 percent effort beyond the arc. He has upped his efforts to 17.9 ppg in conference games, converting 44.2 percent of his shots from out on the perimeter. As a team, Idaho State is hitting on 39.2 percent from 3-point land, en route to 70.8 ppg, but still the wins have been hard to come by.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, playing in the more intimate Reed Gym doesn't give the team more of an advantage against visiting squads. It only allows fewer fans to see the disappointing results.
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