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UM unable to solve MSU trap defense

BOZEMAN - It takes a mighty effective trap to snare a Grizzly.

The Montana State Bobcats came up with one that turned the trick.

The Bobcats used a trapping defense to harass Montana all night and came away with a 77-61 Big Sky Conference men's basketball victory in front of 6,227 fans at MSU's Worthington Arena.

The Bobcats (3-2, 11-7) also hit their stride on the offensive end, making 7-of-11 from beyond the 3-point line. MSU entered the game shooting just 19 percent from downtown in their first four league games. Four Bobcats scored in double figures with senior Jason Erickson leading the way with 14.

Steve Horne and Kamarr Davis scored 16 apiece to lead the Griz (2-3, 5-12), who relied on individual effort to get almost all their offense. Montana finished with just six assists and 20 turnovers, giving the Griz only 11 assists in their last two games, both losses.

"They trap, which we knew," Montana coach Pat Kennedy said. "It's a unique defense. We were prepared for that and we worked all week on it. In the first 'X' number of minutes, we did a nice job of getting ball reversal. If you come out of the traps and reverse it you're going to get wide-open shots. And we did, but we were 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half.

"But they do take you out of your offense because of the trapping. That's one of the things that's made them very effective this year."

It didn't help the Grizzlies' cause that point guard Derrick Mansell was in foul trouble for much of the game. Mansell played just 25 minutes and had just one assist, which is one more than he had in the Grizzlies' last game, a loss to Weber State.

"Without Derrick in a game of this nature … it didn't help us," Kennedy said.

The Bobcats, who start a lineup with just one player taller than 6-foot-5, use the trap to compensate for their lack of size.

"It's a pain in the butt, the traps," Montana State coach Mick Durham said. "Sometimes it works, sometimes you get exposed. Tonight it was fairly effective.

"We wanted to keep pressure on them. We didn't want them to come into our place and run their stuff. But we needed to generate points, too, and the best part of this is we made some shots."

And there were plenty to go around. Calvin Ento gave the Cats a boost with 13 points, Danny Faaborg added 12 and Matt Towsley had 11.

Montana State didn't take the lead until the Cats put together a 10-0 run late in the first half. Montana took its last lead of the game at 26-25 on a free throw by freshman Brian Lynch with 4:18 to play before intermission.

The Cats scored the next 10 points, five by sophomore point guard Frank Brown, to go on top 35-27 with 30 seconds to play before half. A pair of free throws from Kevin Criswell, who finished with 11 points, cut the margin to 35-29 at the break.

Faaborg scored seven of the Cats' first nine points in the second half to extend the lead to 44-34 with 15:46 to play. Freshman Nick Dissly hit a trey moments later to make it 47-35 and the lead remained in double digits the rest of the way.

The Grizzlies weren't able to get Davis the ball in the low post with any consistency until late in the game with the outcome pretty well determined. Nine of his 16 points came after the Cats already owned a double-digit lead.

"He works for the ball really hard," Ento said. "He's a handful."

But Ento and Faaborg didn't have to shoulder the burden alone.

"They double and triple team him every time we throw it into the post," Kennedy said. "Everyone thinks just go inside, they're not that big. But as soon as it goes inside, they got two or three guys all around him. We worked like heck to get the ball into Kamarr Davis. It's not that easy to just get him the ball."

Criswell did a good job of defending Erickson, who scored six of his 14 in garbage time. It was the supporting cast that stepped up to make the shots.

"Those guys hit huge shots for us," said Erickson, who added five assists and four steals to his stat line. "I trust all these guys to hit shots."

The Griz return to action Thursday at Northern Arizona, which completed a sweep of its road trip with a win at Idaho State on Saturday.

Notes: Davis hit 8-of-9 free throws, making him 27-for-29 in league play. … MSU outrebounded the Griz 18-8 in the second half to finish with a 37-31 advantage. … Brown finished with six assists, zero turnovers and led the Cats in rebounding with seven from the point guard position. … Griz starting center John Seyfert led the Griz with seven rebounds, but didn't take a shot until missing a put-back attempt with 52 seconds to play.

MONTANA (61)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Horne 29 7-10 1-4 6 3 0 16

f-Davis 30 4-8 8-9 6 2 1 16

c-Seyfert 23 0-1 2-2 7 2 0 2

g-Mansell 25 3-6 0-0 0 5 1 7

g-Criswell 33 3-6 5-7 3 2 2 11

Lynch 12 0-4 2-4 1 2 1 2

Cummings 16 0-3 0-0 0 1 1 0

Dlouhy 1 1-1 0-0 0 1 0 3

Pederson 5 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 0

Easley 4 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 0

Venters 14 2-6 0-2 4 4 0 4

Totals 200 20-47 18-28 28 24 6 61

MONTANA STATE (77)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Ento 28 5-10 2-36 6 1 2 13

f-Barsh 28 1-4 3-4 5 1 3 5

f-Faabrog 26 5-5 0-0 5 5 1 12

g-Erickson 38 5-11 3-3 3 3 5 14

g-Brown 27 1-5 7-10 7 4 6 9

Dissly 19 3-7 0-0 1 3 1 8

Durr 2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0

Clift 10 0-1 2-4 1 2 1 2

Owsley 2 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 3

Towsley 20 4-8 3-8 5 4 0 11

Totals 200 25-53 20-32 33 24 19 67

Halftime score: Montana State 35, Montana 29.

3-point goals: UM 3-16 (Dlouhy 1-1, Horne 1-2, Mansell 1-3, Davis 0-1, Pederson 0-1, Criswell 0-2, Lynch 0-3, Cummings 0-3), MSU 7-11 (Dissly 2-3, Faabrog 2-2, Ento 1-1, Owsley 1-1, Barsh 0-1, Brown 0-1).

Turnovers: UM 20 (Criswell 5, Horne 4), MSU 15 (Faabrog 7).

Blocked shots: UM 1 (Seyfert), MSU 1 (Ento).

Steals: UM 2 (Lynch, Venters), MSU 7 (Erickson 4, Barsh 2).

Officials: Martin Cota, Brian Shelley, Tom Spitznagel.

Attendance: 6,227.

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