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Montana State opens up big lead, rolls past Idaho 62-48

Feb. 29—Montana State would not let Idaho do to it what the Vandals did to Northern Arizona last Saturday. Down by 15 points, Idaho roared back to upend the Lumberjacks 86-76.

The Bobcats raced to a similar early lead Thursday but fended off Idaho the rest of the way in a 62-48 victory in Moscow, Idaho.

MSU improved to 13-16 overall and 8-8 in the Big Sky Conference. Idaho slipped to 11-18, 5-10.

Idaho coach Alex Pribble was not expecting such a result.

"I really felt our preparation was spot on," he said. "The last three days of practice were really good. (But) when we dug ourselves a hole, we didn't quite have the energy to fight back as we did against NAU."

The Bobcats had Idaho down by as many as 22 points twice in the second half. They cooled off, hitting just 6 of 20 shots from the floor, but it hardly mattered, as Idaho only nibbled at the MSU advantage and didn't mount a significant comeback.

The Bobcats' defense frustrated the Vandals, who committed 17 turnovers. Pribble gave a nod to MSU coach Matt Logie for that.

"He did a great job preparing his guys, taking us out of our rhythm," Pribble said.

The Bobcats' Robert Ford III led all scorers with 14 points. MSU's Tyler Patterson added 11, and Brandon Walker and Sam Lecholat 10 each.

Quinn Denker, EJ Neal and Terren Frank paced Idaho with eight points apiece.

To the extent Idaho tried to get back into the game in the second half, Neal had the most notable run. With just under 9 minutes to go, he derailed a Bobcats possession by drawing a charge. This was bracketed by his reverse layup and a 3-pointer.

This game was bereft of drama. The Bobcats got hot immediately and ran off the game's first six points. Idaho responded and cut the deficit to 9-8 on Trevon Blassingame's 3-pointer. From there, MSU went on a 16-2 run.

Idaho's offense was also compromised by nine first-half turnovers. The Bobcats spread the court and had Idaho defenders chasing quick, accurate passes for much of the opening half.

At halftime, the Vandals trailed 41-27, as the Bobcats shot 17 of 29 from the field, including 7 of 12 on 3-pointers.

To add injury to insult, Blassingame, who was just returning from a sprained ankle, rolled his ankle again in the second half and had to leave the game.

Women

Idaho 58, Montana State 53: Idaho guard Kennedy Johnson spearheaded a fourth-quarter surge, scoring 10 of her team-high 15 points to guide the visiting Vandals to a win over Montana State at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.

Johnson knocked down a layup, forward Sarah Brans followed with a 3-pointer, and Johnson added two free throws to cap Idaho's game-clinching 7-0 scoring run during the final minutes.

The Vandals (14-14, 7-9 Big Sky) trailed by seven at halftime but outscored Montana State 20-10 in the third quarter.

Johnson, a junior transfer from UC Santa Barbara, shot 6 of 10 from the field and added seven rebounds. Brans scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor as the Vandals went 40.7% from the field and 5 of 17 (29.4%) on 3-point attempts. The Bobcats (15-14, 9-7) shot 37.3% from the floor and 8 of 23 (34.8%) on 3-pointers.

Idaho meets Montana at 1 p.m. Saturday in Missoula.