Syracuse took control early with its stifling zone defense and never looked back, beating Montana State 82-60 in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday.
The Orange limited MSU to 21% shooting in the first half, building a 31-17 lead. The Bobcats thawed out in the second half, hitting at a 52% clip, but Syracuse never let the Bobcats back into the game in coasting to the victory. After the Bobcats trimmed the lead to 13 points on a three-pointer by Tyler Hall with 16 minutes to play the hosts responded with a 12-4 spurt that put the game out of reach.
“We had some chances to get (the deficit) under 10 in the second half,” said Bobcat coach Brian Fish, “but we couldn’t make shots. I was concerned about playing in the dome and playing passive, and I thought (MSU) were rushed in the first half. There were four or five balls that slipped through our hands because they just were rushed. But I was happy with how hard they played and how hard they competed in the second half. They got after it.”
Montana State’s struggled manifested most noticeably at the free throw line. The Cats converted just five of their 14 charity tosses, while Syracuse was 11-for-24 from the line. MSU turned the ball over only 11 times, to the Orange’s seven, and MSU grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and was out-rebounded just 48-to-45.
The Cats were able to right the ship to some degree after the intermission. MSU scored 43 points in the second half, and shot 52% from the floor, 44% from the three-point arc.
“We had better ball movement,” Fish said of MSU’s second half effort. “We were more aggressive and more settled in, and we just got after it. The guys competed, and having Tyler and Marcus on the floor more (after first half foul issues) is obviously important.”
Sarp Gobeloglu scored 13 points to lead MSU, while Hall scored 12 and Colbert added 10. Quinton Everett grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, while Marcus Colbert dished out seven assists.
The Bobcats fall to 5-7 with the loss, while Syracuse is now 9-3. MSU opens Big Sky play on December 31 at Southern Utah.