Squires leads Montana State Bobcats to victory over Montana

Posted at 6:12 PM, Feb 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-03 00:51:51-05

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

BOZEMAN – If she wasn’t scoring it, she was distributing it.

Montana State’s Oliana Squires posted a game-high 20 points and dished out eight assists as the Bobcats knocked off Montana 74-52 on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena. The 22-point margin of victory for the Bobcats was the largest in its rivalry with the Lady Griz.

“We had a little bit of a rough start,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “And, really proud of how our kids responded. We changed up defenses. I thought Oli (Squires) started establishing some tempo for us to get some transition things off our defense. And, I couldn’t be more proud of our centers and what they did of producing at the paint. I thought just how they attacked the interior and Oli’s play off the bounce was fantastic.”

Montana State (11-9, 6-4) found itself down early as Montana (10-9, 5-5) got out to a 9-0 lead and held a 20-13 advantage after the first quarter.

The Bobcats returned the favor in the second frame out-scoring the Lady Griz 21-7. MSU shot 42.9 percent from the field, while limiting UM to just 15.8 percent. The second period spark was led by a pair of freshmen as Halle Wright connected for six points, while Gabby Mocchi chipped in five.

Montana State held a 34-27 lead at intermission.

“All it takes is one play on the defensive end to get us started and from there we just got rolling,” Squires said. “Shots started going in and we focused in on defense and that led our offense.”

Squires paced MSU with nine points in the first half. In addition, the Bobcats out-rebounded UM 25-21 as Blaire Braxton patrolled the lane with five rebounds.

The Bobcats pulled away from the Lady Griz midway through the third quarter as Claire Lundberg’s layup at the 4:14 mark capped a 10-0 run.

MSU built its largest lead at 74-45 with 4:41 remaining on Squires’ fourth 3-pointer of the contest.

Montana State post players Braxton and Madeline Smith each ended in double-figures. Braxton notched 13 points, while Smith came off the bench for 11. Combined, the duo shot 79 percent from the field.

As a team, the Bobcats finished shooting 46.8 percent from the field, including an impressive 53 percent in the second half. MSU also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding Montana 46-39. Lundberg pulled down a team-high seven boards, while Braxton finished with six.

“We talked all week about how good Montana is on the glass,” Binford said.

Montana was led by Sammy Fatkin with 13 points and five rebounds.

Montana State will host league-leading Northern Colorado on Monday night at 6 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.