The Brawl of the Wild series continued last Saturday, Jan. 20, at Worthington Arena in Bozeman. Both MSU Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams were set to take on the rival teams from University of Montana. Going into Saturday, MSU held a 6-0 lead in the entire Brawl of the Wild series with help from the Bobcats’ football, volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country teams’ victories.
The women’s game tipped off at 2 p.m. with over 4,000 people in attendance. Heading into the game, the Cats were 3-3 in conference play this year and were looking for a win to keep above .500. The Griz were tied for first place in the Big Sky Conference, with only one loss, and were out for revenge against the Bobcats, who beat them in both matchups last year.
Both teams appeared evenly matched during the first quarter. The Cats drained three three-pointers during the period, and both teams came down with 10 rebounds. After the end of the first the score was tied 14-14.
The second quarter MSU picked up the pace outscoring Montana 21-9. The Cats dominated the glass, coming up with 19 rebounds, nine of them on the offensive boards. During the same stretch the Griz only came up with 4 rebounds. Heading into halftime Montana State held a 35-23 lead.
The Cats’ momentum from the first half carried into the second. MSU managed to put up 25 points in the third quarter, outscoring the Griz by four. Although, both teams shot an impressive 50 percent during the period. At the end of three the Cats were up 60-44.
Montana State continued to play well through the fourth quarter, squaring up and making a total of four shots from three point range during the fourth. The final score was MSU 81, UM 64.
Montana State’s senior guard Delany Junkermier lead the charge in scoring, putting up a total of 16 points, she also pulled in nine rebounds. Cats’ senior guard Rebekah Hatchard stepped up and played a great game as well, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 boards, giving her a double-double. Overall, four of the Bobcats starters scored in double digits.
After the game, Montana’s head coach, Shannon Schweyen said, “The tale of the game was rebounding.” The Cats outrebounded the Griz 46-37, giving MSU 19 second chance points, while Montana was held to only four.
MSU Head Coach Tricia Binford was pleased with her team’s win. She praised her seniors for helping the team come out to a quick start. She also talked about how well her team took care of the ball; during the contest the Cats only committed six turnovers. “This one was the last [Cat-Griz game] at home, so it meant a lot to me,” senior guard Hannah Caudill said of the rivalry.
The men’s game tipped off later that evening at 7 p.m. in front of a sellout crowd of 6,772 fans. Going into the game the Griz were 6-0 in conference play, sitting alone in first place in the Big Sky Conference. While, the Cats, who started out 4-0 in conference, but dropped two games late and were still in second place.
Both teams started the game well, each scoring on their first possessions. The score remained close until the Cats busted open a 14-4 run spanning from the 13 to the seven minute marks. During the run five different MSU players scored. With 6:56 left to play Montana State held a nine-point lead, their largest of the contest. After the run the Griz began to chip at the Cats lead for the remainder of the half, eventually tying the score with a buzzer-beater three-pointer by freshman guard Timmy Falls at the end of the half.
Bobcat sophomore guard Harald Frey had a great first half sinking five of his seven shot attempts including two from three-point range, giving him 13 first-half points; the most of any player from either team. MSU and Montana had nearly identical stats after the first half of the game. Each team shot 46 percent from the field, pulled in 17 rebounds, made six free-throws and turned the ball over six times.
The Griz rode the wave from the first half and took the lead almost immediately. While Montana excelled in the second half, the wheels fell off the wagon for MSU. During the entirety of the second half, Montana State only made four of their 24 shots from the field, shooting a dreadful 16.7 percent. The Griz’s defense, the number one scoring defense in conference play, found its groove. They shut down Frey and junior guard Tyler Hall during the second half; holding them to a combined three points during the half, and no made field goals. The Bobcats also coughed up the ball seven times in the second half, while Montana only turned it over twice. The game ended with the Griz winning 67-52.
Afterward, Montana players and Head Coach Travis Decuire commented on how the Griz were able to establish the paint. UM outscored MSU in the paint 40-16 with major help from Montana sophomore forward Jamar Akoh. Decuire pointed out, “Defense wins games.”
Bobcat head coach, Brian Fish, did not have a lot to say about the loss post-game. Fish gave credit to Montana calling them a good team. Fish commended his post defense, though, saying, “they fought their tails off.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will meet up with the Griz again this season, this time at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula on Feb. 24 for another double-header.