BOZEMAN – The most important part of the Montana State women’s basketball team’s season starts Thursday. They open up their Big Sky Conference play with a game against Southern Utah. But the two-time defending Big Sky champs aren’t worried out a 3-peat, only the task at hand.

“We’re just preparing for each game as they come, but conference play definitely means way more,” said captain Hannah Caudill. “Preseason, you’re getting the kinks out, you’re getting to know each other, especially because we have a half-new team, half returners. And so now that we’ve kind of found our vibe and our chemistry, we are ready to go.”

The Cats are only a game over .500, but Big Sky plays wipes the slate clean.

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“I think you treat it like a brand new season, it’s 0-0 and you have to take the preseason with what it is and take the good and the bad and learn from those situations,” said head coach Tricia Binford.

And even know the last two Big Sky championship titles have found their way to Bozeman, the Cats are not treating this year lightly.

“The Big Sky Conference has had a really great preseason,” Binford said. “We’ve had two Pac-12 victories in our conference. When you step on the court in the Big Sky, you’ve got to be ready to go. Every night is a championship type of game.”