(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – It only took three-minutes and 50-seconds for Hannah Caudill to find Blaire Braxton on the blocks. Braxton gathered the ball and kissed it off the glass to give Caudill her 444th career assist and the all-time Montana State record as the Bobcats knocked off North Dakota 72-56 on Thursday night in Worthington Arena.
Caudill finished the game with eight assists to break Vicki Heebner Carle’s mark of 443. Caudill has 450 career assists.
“I’m really proud of Hannah,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “It is a special accomplishment and goes to the consistency she has shown for four years.”
Montana State (13-8, 7-3) never trailed following Caudill’s three-pointer to open the game. The Bobcats opened the first period on a 17-6 run capped by a triple from Rebekah Hatchard at the 2:30 mark. MSU held a 17-10 advantage after the first 10-minutes.
In the second frame, the Bobcats stymied the North Dakota (10-11, 3-7) offense holding the Fighting Hawks to 15.8 percent from the field and zero-of-10 from beyond the arc. MSU held a 35-17 advantage at intermission.
“I thought we had a very solid effort from the start, especially on the defensive end,” Binford said. “They threw a big line-up at us, but I thought we really protected the boards and were able to establish a good tempo.”
On three occasions in the third quarter Montana State built a 23-point cushion, the last coming on another Hatchard three-pointer and the Cats were able to put it on cruise control down the stretch for its fifth straight victory.
Hatchard, a senior from Adelaide, Australia posted a career-high 18 points as all five Bobcat starters hit double-digits. Oliana Squires posted 14 points, while Madeline Smith added 11 and Caudill and Delany Junkermier 10, apiece.
UND won the battle of the board 38-36. Smith paced MSU with a team-high seven rebounds, while Junkermier added six.
Montana State shot 46.6 percent from the field and connected on 10-of-30 from beyond the arc. The Bobcat defense held the Fighting Hawks to 31.6 percent and an icy 11.1 percent from long distance.
With the win, Montana State moves into second in the Big Sky Conference standings along with Northern Colorado, Idaho and Montana, just a ½ game back of Weber State.
UND was paced in the loss by Fallyn Freije with 23 points and nine rebounds.
MSU will host Northern Colorado on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Worthington Arena.