Posted: Mar 9, 2013 9:40 PM by Ted Dawson
Updated: Mar 9, 2013 9:40 PM
Montana State's lone healthy senior poured in 23 points, the second-highest total of his career, to lead Montana State to a 71-55 win over Sacramento State on Saturday afternoon. The victory raises MSU's league record to 10-10, which forges a fourth-place tie with Northern Colorado, gives MSU the fourth seed, and forges an opening round game between Montana State and the Bears Thursday at 8 pm in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Missoula.
Saturday afternoon, though, wasn't about seeding or standings. It was about a fantastic performance from Moon, who consistently draws more praise as a person than a player. And he is a plenty-good player, says MSU coach Brad Huse.
"Obviously it was a great performance by Christian on the floor," said MSU coach Brad Huse. "It speaks to the person he is. Every day his approach is the same. He is a really good player, a great teammate, and he had a really good senior year. And it's extra special because his mom was here to see him play today."
MSU's formula for success Saturday was slightly unfamiliar. The Bobcats were out-rebounded 30-to-26, and for much of the game the margin was much greater. MSU also shot well, 49% on the afternoon, and held the Hornets below 40% shooting in each half. Moon was a key part of that lock-down defense.
The senior guard from Inkster, Mich., who has transformed from a three-point specialist into a complete offensive player was also a key part of MSU's offensive attack Saturday. It was his trademark deep ball that got the Bobcats off to a good start on his Senior Day. He hit a trey to put MSU up 6-2 early, and with Sacramento State threatening to separate mid-way through the first half Moon two free throws, a layup, and a triple to give MSU an 18-17 lead.
Moon's layup at 3:07 helped key an end-of-the-half run that gave the Bobcats a 39-28 lead at the intermission. After the Bobcats forced a shot clock violation with 47 seconds to play in the half, Flavien Davis converted an and-one opportunity with two seconds left to give MSU an 11-point cushion at the intermission.
That lead disappeared almost immediately when play resumed. A dunk for one-time Bobcat Jordan Salley with 15:03 to play in the second half gave Sac State a 43-42 lead, and with 9:10 to play the game was tied at 49 after a John Dickson layup for the Hornets.
Then, the Bobcats went on a game-clinching run. Davis' layup gave MSU a 51-49 lead, Paul Egwuonwu did likewise, and Moon's three-pointer pushed MSU's lead to 56-49 with 5:06 to play. Another and-one by Davis at 3:04 built MSU's lead back to seven, and the Bobcats closed the deal from the free throw line.
Huse was pleased with his team's effort. "They missed some shots, that always helps," he said, "but we were proficient the whole game. The guys really played hard - I thought they played hard for Christian and for (injured forward) Xavier (Blount, whose season is likely finished)."
Montana State's focus now turns to the post-season, and to a trip three hours west. The Bobcats face Northern Colorado Thursday in Dahlberg Arena at 8 pm. The teams split the regular season series.