Portland (1-1) at Montana State (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 18, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Worthington Arena (7,250) -- Bozeman, Montana. Television: ROOT-NW. Home Record: Portland 1-0, Montana State 0-0. Away Record: Portland 0-1, Montana State 0-1. Neutral Record: Portland 0-0, Montana State 0-0. Conference Record: Portland 0-0, Montana State 0-0. Series Record: Portland leads, 10-7.
GAME NOTES: In its first home game of the season, Montana State is searching for its first win when the Bobcats host the Portland Pilots in a non- conference action at Worthington Arena.
The Pilots come into this matchup fresh of their first win of the season. In a game that featured more defensive success than offensive firepower, the Pilots outlasted Idaho State 51-48 at home to move to an even 1-1 this season. Portland's other game came on the road against Ohio and ended in an 81-52 loss. Portland will return home to entertain cross-town rival Portland State on Wednesday.
Montana State was on the road in its season opener with the Bobcats traveling to face Seattle. The quick road trip ended with the Bobcats on the wrong end of an 87-72 decision and has the team entering its first home game at 0-1. Montana State finished just 12-17 last season but did have a record above .500 at home (7-6). The Bobcats head out on the road again in its next two games beginning at Air Force.
This game will be the 18th all-time between these two programs. In the previous 17 matchups, Portland has come out on top including a 59-53 victory during the 2006-07 season.
Portland's defense in the second half against Idaho State was the difference in the game. The Pilots held the Bengals to just eight second-half field goals and a 2-of-10 effort from beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes. Portland also won the battle of the boards with a 31-22 edge in rebounds led by Ryan Nicholas who pulled down eight rebounds while scoring a game-high 22 points.
Through two games, Portland has not been able to get into any sort of rhythm on offense. The Pilots are scoring on 51.5 points per game while shooting less than 40 percent from the floor (.398 FG percentage). The Pilots efforts from beyond the arc have also been poor with the squad being outscored 48-21 from 3-point range. Nichols (19.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg) has been the only real consistent offensive force for the Pilots. Sophomore guard Kevin Bailey (10.5 ppg) is the only other player on the team in double figures but has also led the team in turnovers with nine. Tanner Riley (6.5 ppg) has the second-most field goal attempts but has hit on only 4-of-15 shots from the floor. All four of those field goals came from beyond the arc where Riley has actually been better (4- of-10) than in closer to the basket (0-of-5). Derrick Rogers (4.0 ppg) and Riley Parker (2.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) are the best options off the bench.
In the first game of the season for Montana State, the Bobcats slow first half proved to much to overcome in the loss to Seattle. Montana State trailed 39-24 at the break and shot 36.4 percent in the game overall. Ball movement was lacking for the Bobcats with the team totaling only six assists. Paul Egwuonwu was one of four players in double figures as he posted a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double.
For Grizzlies' head coach Brad Huse, the Bobcats efforts might be something he'll have to get used to. Montana State is a rather inexperienced squad with four starters in the opener making their debut for the team. Egwuonwu is one of those starters and was a nice surprise with his production in the opener. The junior forward transferred from the College of Southern Idaho where he scored 4.6 points and brought in 5.6 rebounds per game last season. Andre Biglow (15 points), Michael Colbert (2 points, 3 rebounds) and Flaven Davis (12 points) all notched their first career minutes with the team in the opener. Senior guard Jamie Stewart (9.1 ppg last season) is one of very few holdovers from last season although he played in only 12 games last year. Junior forward Calen Coleman didn't fit into the starting lineup in his first appearance for the Bobcats, but did manage to provide 10 points off the bench.
This promises to be one where baskets will be hard to come by. Portland's offensive woes need to improve and against a still learning Montana State squad the Pilots should find some more success.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland 61, Montana State 58
11/18 10:47:04 ET