BOZEMAN — Silence fell over the Worthington Arena crowd Wednesday night when star guard Tyler Hall fell to the hardwood with a right ankle injury during Montana State’s 109-81 victory over Montana Western.
Hall was injured near mid-court — behind the play — as teammate Keljin Blevins rose for an uncontested transition dunk early in the second half. It happened as he leapt into the air to celebrate Blevins’ dunk and landed on a Montana Western player’s foot, thus rolling his ankle. He had to be helped off by the athletic training staff.
The ailment proved to be minor, though, and Hall eventually checked back into the game after being taped up.
“We were a little nervous about that when he went down,” said MSU point guard Harald Frey, who was again solid with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. “But Tyler’s a tough guy. He’ll be alright.”
“I’m sure he’s going to be really sore,” Bobcats coach Brian Fish said. “The great thing about Tyler — Thursdays he has no class. So he’ll be all-conference in the training room starting tonight and we’ll see if we can’t get him healthy.”
Hall had been hot to that point, having broken out of a shooting slump that plagued him in an overtime win over Omaha and a loss at Utah State, in which he combined to make just 6 of 21 3-point shots.
Hall scored 12 points within the first five minutes against Western as MSU jumped out to a 14-point lead. He finished with 32 points on 9-of-12 shooting with seven 3s. It marked the 11th 30-point game of his career.
Upon his return to the game, Hall helped fuel a 20-3 run in a five-minute span as the Bobcats pulled away. His 3-pointer with 11:00 left put MSU ahead 80-69.
Western had made their first eight shots of the second half to crawl as close as four. But MSU finished with 15 3-pointers and shot 54 percent from the floor overall. And its defensive efficiency improved during that second-half run.
“They had us on our skates and we were starting to move backwards,” Fish said. “We started slapping the floor and started playing pretty good defense. That’s a very good offensive team that averages 111 (points) a game, and we were able to guard them” down the stretch.
“I think the (defensive) effort was better tonight. We had a little trouble guarding penetration. Of course give some credit to Western. But we had some really good spurts on defense and some pretty bad ones. We just have to shrink those bad possessions as much as we can.”
Billings product Kooper Kidgell led Western with 15 points. As a team, MSU had 24 assists, 13 of which came in the second half.
The Bobcats (2-1) hit the road to play at Louisiana Tech on Saturday before traveling to Mexico for the Cancun Challenge Nov. 21-22.
MSU women cruise
A record that has stood for 23 years was nearly broken in a 66-31 victory by the MSU women over Providence (Mont.) earlier Wednesday.
Madeline Smith pulled down 19 rebounds, two shy of the single-game record set by Cass Bauer in 1994. Smith had eight offensive boards. She also scored nine points as the Bobcats improved their early season record to 2-1.
Hannah Caudill led MSU with 14 points while making 4 of 5 3-point shots. Caudill, a senior point guard, has made 10 of 14 3s in the past two games.
MSU next plays at Omaha on Friday.