Strong second half propels Montana State women to 7th straight win over Montana

Montana State Tricia Binford.JPG
Posted at 9:03 PM, Jan 24, 2022

BOZEMAN — For Tricia Binford, Montana State's head women's basketball coach, her team's nearly unstoppable efforts on its home court come down to two things: settling into a rhythm and embracing its identity no matter which team they're facing.

The Bobcats once again did both.

Taylor Janssen scored 14 points and Darian White added 13 points and five assists as MSU defeated rival Montana 73-59 at Worthington Arena on Monday. The win was MSU's seventh straight over the Lady Griz.

"We're resilient, we're hungry," said White, a junior who recently joined MSU's 1000-point club. "We've taken some really big steps these past couple of games and we're gonna keep building from that."

The Bobcats (11-8 overall, 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference) also closed out an undefeated four-game homestand while halting a three-game win streak by Montana (12-5, 5-3).

"At home right now we have a rhythm about us and we figured our identity out," Binford said after the game. "We're not gonna change who we are based on who our opponent is. And for us everything starts on the defensive end.

The Bobcats did just that, getting two steals in the first minute to spark MSU to a quick 4-0 lead. Montana grabbed a 7-6 lead with six minutes remaining in the first quarter but a 3-pointer from Katelynn Limardo on MSU's next possession gave the Bobcats the lead for good.

"We created some turnovers tonight," Binford said. "We want to disrupt our opponents and for us that's where everything has to start."

UM's Sammy Fatkin led all scorers with 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting, while Abby Anderson added 10. Gabby Mocchi scored 12 for the Bobcats.

Montana State battled to a 21-15 lead at the end of the first and led 34-30 at halftime. The Cats started to separate in the third quarter thanks to hot shooting from beyond the arc. Janssen was a perfect 4-for-4 from the 3-point line, and MSU as a team went 9-for-17.

Meanwhile, Montana looked lost in the second half, going scoreless over a six-minute streak between the third and fourth quarters. The Lady Griz would finish the game with 13 turnovers. MSU extended its lead to 66-46 after a Kola Bad Bear layup with just over six minutes left. Bad Bear, a Billings Senior graduate, finished with six rebounds, tied for a team-high along with Janssen. Montana's Sophia Stiles, a Malta graduate, had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Montana State now travels to Eastern Washington on Thursday while the Lady Griz face the Eagles on the road on Saturday.