(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
FLAGSTAFF, A.Z. – Montana State sophomore Oliana Squires recorded a career-high 21 points, including five 3-pointers and the Bobcats cruised past Northern Arizona 78-56 on Thursday night in the Walkup Skydome. The win was MSU’s first road victory since defeating Long Beach State in mid-November.
Montana State (11-8, 5-3) owned the opening quarter taking a 20-5 advantage shooting 46.7 percent from the field, while holding Northern Arizona (4-15, 1-7) to an icy 18.2 percent from the floor. Squires, a product of Colorado Springs, Colo., hit for seven points in the opening 10-minutes.
“We had a fantastic start on the defensive end,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “I thought we started with great energy as well and shared the ball really well. Oliana set the tone for us and it was a solid team win on the road.”
The Bobcats built a 45-16 cushion at intermission with Squires accounting for 15 points.
MSU took its largest lead of the contest at 67-31 following a pair of free throws via Rebekah Hatchard at the 9:33 mark of the final frame.
Also in double-digits for the Bobcats were Hannah Caudill with 11 points and Madeline Smith with 10. Smith notched her fifth double-double of the season guiding MSU under the boards with 10 rebounds. Caudill dished out seven assists to give her 433 on her career and just two shy of moving into third on MSU’s all-time assists chart.
MSU held a 42-32 advantage in rebounding going into the fourth quarter and turned the ball over just six times, as well.
“I’m proud of our effort on the boards,” Binford said. “We had some gaps on the defensive boards in the second quarter, but responded well coming out of halftime.”
Nine of MSU’s ten players dressed for the game scored, including a 20-point performance from its bench. The Cats played without the services of freshmen Laura Pranger and Coral Gillette.
NAU was led in the loss by Kenna McDavis with 21 points and seven rebounds.
With the win, the Bobcats moved to within one game of first place in the Big Sky Conference.
The Cats will play at Southern Utah on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Cedar City.