GREENSBORO, N.C. – Montana State held Appalachian State to 34.4 percent shooting while the Bobcats made crucial plays late in the second half to defeat the Mountaineers 59-56 in the Spartan Invitational on Friday night.
Senior guard Harald Frey led a trio of Bobcats in double digits scoring with 16. He was followed by Devin Kirby with 12 and Amin Adamu at. Frey had a team-high five assists and Jubrile Belo grabbed an MSU-best seven rebounds.
Montana State (2-1) and Appalachian State (2-2) battled back and forth before the Bobcats seized control. Livingston's Ladan Ricketts hit a baseline jumper with 7:28 remaining to make it 42-42 and start a 10-0 run.
Frey hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Montana State a 50-42 advantage with 2:52 remaining.
The Mountaineers cut the deficit to 3 on three occasions before the final buzzer, but the Bobcats were clutch down the stretch from the free throw line. Despite starting the game 1-for-7 from the charity stripe, MSU hit eight of its last nine attempts — with Adamu hitting all six of his attempts in the final minute.
"I'm super proud and happy for our guys," Montana State coach Danny Sprinkle said in a press release. "The way they competed, we knew we'd face some adversity and they did. But we responded. I was most proud of the way we controlled our emotions because there were times our guys could have blown up. Whether it was bad calls, missed free throws or missed rebounds, just all those little things. But our guys kept fighting. I'm super proud of the effort they showed."
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The Bobcats jumped to an 8-0 lead but trailed 25-24 at halftime.
App State was held to 3 of 19 (15.8 percent) from the 3-point line. Justin Forrest scored a game-high 27 points for the Mountaineers.
It's the first time in three the Bobcats held an opponent to less than 60 points.
"Defensively we did a great job with the game plan of trying to shrink the floor and make them try to make jump shots to beat us," Sprinkle said. "That's going to have to be our calling card all year if we want to keep winning."
Montana State returns to action against host North Carolina-Greensboro at 4 p.m. (MT) Saturday.