Montana State Bobcats drop first Big Sky game against Northern Colorado

Posted at 11:28 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 01:28:26-05

(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)

GREELEY, Colo. – Northern Colorado out-rebounded Montana State 41-28, including 13 offensive boards en route to an 82-69 win over the Bobcats on Thursday night in Bank of Colorado Arena.

The Bears held a 23-7 advantage in second chance opportunities.

“You just can’t give up that many second opportunities to an offensive team that is as efficient as Northern Colorado,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “Second chances were the difference.”

Northern Colorado (11-3, 3-0), the preseason favorite by both the coaches and media to win the Big Sky Conference title, jumped out to a 22-13 lead after the opening 10-minutes. Montana State (8-6, 2-1) whittled the margin to four points on a Blaire Braxton layup in the second period, but the Bears responded with a 12-4 run to close out the frame and enter intermission with a 41-29 cushion.

MSU, who set a school-record for 3-pointers against Southern Utah last Thursday, opened the third quarter on fire. The Cats connected on 11-of-15 from the field and were four-of-four from long distance to pull to within 60-56 heading into the final quarter.

Bobcat freshman Ashley Van Sickle nailed a three-pointer to open the fourth frame to narrow the lead to 60-59 with 8:43 remaining. MSU remained within striking distance at 66-63 with 6:36 left, but Northern Colorado went on a 9-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 10-point advantage.

The Bears converted seven-of-eight free throws in the final two-minutes to secure the victory.

“I loved our fight in the third quarter,” Binford said. “We’ll build off that third quarter tempo heading into North Dakota on Saturday.”

Montana State had three players in double-digits led by Delany Junkermier. Junkermier, who returned to the Bobcat line-up after sitting out last Saturday’s game against Northern Arizona, posted a team-best 21 points shooting 8-of-12 from the field, including four 3-pointers. Madeline Smith added 19 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Oliana Squired added 12. Point-guard Hannah Caudill notched eight points and a season-best eight assists.

Northern Colorado was paced by Savannah Smith and Savannah Scott with 32 and 21 points, respectively.

MSU will play at North Dakota on Saturday at 1 p.m. (MST) in Grand Forks.