BOZEMAN — Montana State’s defense had no answers for South Dakota State on Wednesday evening.
The Jackrabbits entered the men's basketball contest 128-8 at home over the last 10 seasons and put on a shooting clinic that gave a good indication as to why.
SDSU shot 36 of 61 from the field — a 59% clip — en route to a 91-74 win at Frost Arena in Brookings, South Dakota.
The Bobcats dropped to 1-2 this season following the loss.
“It’s hard to score when you’re taking the ball out of the net every time,” MSU head coach Danny Sprinkle said. “And it literally felt like they scored every single possession. We couldn’t get out in transition where we’re best. It all starts on the defensive end.”
Seven players scored in double digits for SDSU. Baylor Scheierman led that effort with 18 points, and Noah Freidel matched him with 18 points off the bench. Luke Appel also contributed 11 points off the bench.
“They’re a really good team, and they’ve played together for a while,” Sprinkle said. “They kind of did whatever they needed tonight. If we’re not going to defend, if we’re going to give up 90 points, we’re not going to win too many games. We got humbled a little bit tonight.”
Montana State’s next test comes at 2 p.m. Saturday at New Mexico.
In addition to South Dakota State’s hot shooting, MSU struggled in part Wednesday because of Jubrile Belo being in foul trouble. He picked up two offensive fouls in the first half — the second one coming with nine minutes, 11 seconds to play. MSU trailed by six when he subbed out for the rest of the half. SDSU went on to grow its lead to 17 by halftime, at 52-35.
Belo finished the game with a team-high 13 points — a performance that included the first 3-pointer of his career — but the offense stagnated some with him off the floor.
Sprinkle said Belo’s foul calls weren’t more of an issue than SDSU’s skill level simply being higher.
“They were bigger, stronger and faster than us,” he said. “At the end of the day, they were just better. When they got going offensively, we couldn’t stop them.”
South Dakota State made nine of its first 10 field goals to start the second half, stretching its lead out even more. It swelled to 26 points at various times in the final 20 minutes.
Montana State had a 9-0 run at one point to cut it to 16 — a stretch that included two Abdul Mohamed free throws, two post buckets by Great Osobor and a 3-pointer by Isaac Spears. A Sam Lecholat 3-pointer with 5:23 to play got MSU within 14, at 80-66, but the Bobcats wouldn’t get any closer.
Mohamed supplied 10 points and seven rebounds for MSU. Osobor also had 10 points to go with nine boards. He and Lecholat, who finished with nine points, three rebounds and three assists, were challenged by SDSU’s more experienced post players, but Sprinkle liked what he saw from the freshmen in a difficult place to play.
“The young guys, they played great,” Sprinkle said. “Great Osobor, playing in this atmosphere against big, strong guys that are juniors and seniors, I thought he was tremendous. He really rebounded. He was in there battling and finished down low. … Sam was tremendous again tonight. He had some nice passes and was really competing on the defensive end.”
Spears, another freshman, and sophomore Mareng Gatkuoth finished with four and six points, respectively.
Lecholat hit a trio of 3-pointers while Gatkuoth, Mohamed and Amin Adamu all hit two. In all, MSU hit 13 of 30 from outside, while SDSU went 9 of 17.