BOZEMAN – Montana State used a first quarter three-point barrage en route to a school-record 18 triples and a 91-71 victory over Southern Utah on Thursday night in the Big Sky Conference opener for both squads.
Senior Delany Junkermier missed her opening three-point attempt from the right wing, but the Bobcats connected on their next seven attempts from the field, including four from long distance. Junkermier finished the opening frame with 15 points, while Rebekah Hatchard nailed three 3-pointers and Hannah Caudill added a pair of treys and the route was on.
Montana State (7-5, 1-0) hit a school-record nine three-pointers in the opening 10-minutes.
MSU cooled off slightly in the second quarter shooting 53 percent from the floor to take a 55-33 advantage into intermission. The 55 points were one more than the Bobcats scored in the entire game in its last outing – a 75-54 loss- at BYU last Friday.
The Bobcats finished the first 20-minutes shooting 61 percent from the field and 52 percent from long distance.
“I thought we had a great week of practice and were ready to go,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “We take the action that is given to us and we knocked down the shots. In fact, near the end of the second quarter I thought we gave up some shots that were available. Our three seniors really set the tone.”
The Bobcat lead ballooned to 34-points at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter, before Southern Utah (1-11, 0-1) whittled the margin down to 15-points against the MSU bench with just over three-minutes left in the contest.
“While I’m happy with our play for three quarters, our effort in the final quarter was unacceptable,” Binford said. “We have got to carry our energy for 40-minutes. We let off the gas and if you want to be a championship team, you can’t let that happen.”
Junkermier, a product of Spokane, Wash., finished with a career-high 22 points. Hatchard, a senior from Adelaide, Australia, also recorded a career performance with 16 points and seven rebounds. Caudill ended with 18 points and six assists as MSU’s three veterans combined for 56-of-91 points.
MSU also held a sizeable advantage under the boards, out-rebounding the Thunderbirds 43-31. Blaire Braxton guided the Cats with nine boards, while Junkermier added eight, and Madeline Smith seven.
The victory gave MSU its 30th straight home court win in Worthington Arena- the second longest streak in the nation to national power UConn (69).
SUU was led by Natalie Sanchez with 17 points and eight rebounds.
MSU will host Northern Arizona on Saturday at 2 p.m.