BOZEMAN – Four players scored in double digits and Montana State never trailed as the men's basketball team defeated Rocky Mountain College 93-60 on Saturday in Worthington Arena.
The victory in front of 2,697 fans improved MSU to 1-1 and was the first for Danny Sprinkle in his head coaching career.
MSU built a big first-half lead before Rocky Mountain cut into the deficit to make it 44-31 at the half.
Sprinkle said MSU's early play set the tone.
"I think getting stops and getting out in transition in the first 10 minutes (was the key)," he said. "We did a really good job of getting stops and pushing tempo.
"I thought in the second half, Ladan Ricketts was huge with those three straight 3's. That kind of got us some momentum. But it all stems from getting stops. When our defense is good, when we're on point and can get out and run, it really helps our offense."
The Battlin' Bears (2-1) fell down by 27, but were able to cut the MSU lead to 19 with 11 minutes remaining. An emphatic Jubrile Belo dunk on the next possession pushed the Bobcat advantage to 64-43 and Rocky wouldn't get within 20 the rest of the way.
"I think just energy and effort," Sprinkle said of what was the big difference maker. "We came out really strong and we built up a big lead, and then I think we got stagnant. We're immature, we're young. It's a good learning lesson for our guys. Teams aren't going to go away, especially well coached teams like Rocky."
The 60 points Montana State allowed was the least to an opponent since the 2016-17 season. The Bobcats forced 26 turnovers and scored 33 points off the miscues. MSU also scored 26 points in transition.
"We definitely want to be a team that plays great defense, rebounds the ball and gets out on the run," MSU senior guard Harald Frey said. "That's what we want to build our identity around. I think we have guys that can do it, play great defense and get up and down the floor with the best of them. That was a point of emphasis for tonight.
"When our half-court offense was struggling a bit at times, we were able to get easy baskets in transition."
Montana State travels to Greensboro, North Carolina, for three consecutive games in the Spartan Invitational later this week. The Bobcats open the tournament by taking on Appalachian State on Friday.