CANCUN, Mexico – Brian Fish saw what he needed to see less than a minute into the second half of Montana State’s 74-64 win over Binghamton in the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday.
“We had a long possession where we moved the ball well,” Fish said. “Keljin (Blevins) ended up getting to the line for an and-one (free throw attempt), and I thought that really set the tone for the rest of the game.”
After trailing 31-28 at halftime, the Bobcats on a 7-2 run and outscored Binghamton 46-33 after the intermission, shooting 59 percent. Tyler Hall led all players with 18 points, 15 in the second half. Harald Frey scored all 13 of his points after intermission.
“I’ve really liked our passion and energy for about the last three games, and I thought we came out today in the first five minutes and were a little passive,” Fish said. “In the second half we were a hard-nosed, tough team.”
Fard Muhammed scored 15 points off the bench for the Bearcats, all on 3-pointers, and Willie Rodriguez hit two triples late to cut into a double-digit Bobcat lead to boost his scoring total to 14. But the Bobcats held J.C. Show at bay. His only field goal came in the last moments of the game, and Binghamton’s leading scorer finished with four points on 1-for-11 shooting.
“That’s a toughness thing,” Fish said of his team’s defensive effectiveness. “I liked the competitiveness I saw. I thought (the Bobcats) really competed.”
The Bobcats led for about five minutes late in the first half, but otherwise Binghamton controlled much of the first 20 minutes. Blevins scored seven points with five rebounds before halftime, and Isaac Bonton added seven. Fish lauded the play of those two and Konner Frey, all three in their second month on the MSU varsity.
“I thought the new guys really came on, and Isaac is coming,” Fish said. “I like what he’s doing. He’s learning how to play that one-and-a-half (guard) position. Those guys really gave us a boost.”
After halftime, Hall and Harald Frey took over, the latter finishing with 13 points and two steals. He was 3-for-4 from the arc after the intermission, and was 4-for-4 from the line in the game. Blevins finished with 13 points and eight boards. Konner Frey scored 10 points and grabbed two steals.
Hall’s 18 points came in his return after missing the Louisiana Tech game with a foot injury. Fish indicated that his status for Wednesday’s game against the Cal State Northridge-Southeast Missouri winner, for the championship of Cancun Challenge’s Mayan Division at 1 p.m. (MT), is uncertain.
“We’ll see how he responds,” Fish said. “We have some time off before (MSU’s game at Fresno State) on Sunday, and I think he’ll be ready to go by then. But I like the way we’re playing and if we don’t have Tyler we’ll get after it with the players we have.”
The Bobcats are 3-2 on the season. Binghamton is 1-4.