(Editor’s note: Montana State media release)
BOZEMAN — Madeline Smith posted ten points in the first quarter and finished with a career-high 25 points to guide Montana State to a 72-59 victory over Weber State on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena.
The junior from Snohomish, Wash., went four-of-four from the field and was two-of-two at the line to get Montana State (13-12, 8-7) out to a quick seven-point lead at the midway mark of the opening period. Weber State (5-20, 2-13) got the margin down to three points heading into the second frame.
MSU built its largest lead of the first half at 37-25 following a pair of Martha Kuderer free throws at the 4:07 mark. The Wildcats closed out the quarter on a 15-6 run to trail the Bobcats 43-40 at intermission.
“I thought we really set the tone early going into the interior and Madeline and Blaire (Braxton) were fantastic,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “Their stat-line together was outstanding and they didn’t skip a beat working really hard getting a low block position.”
Smith and Braxton combined for 20 points in the first half, shooting 88.9 percent from the field. As a team, MSU hit at a 55.2 percent clip.
The Bobcats opened the second half on an 11-3 run sparked by nine straight points from Smith. MSU held a nine-point advantage going into the fourth quarter. In the final stanza, the Bobcats built its largest lead at 72-54 on a Tori Martell three-pointer with 5:16 remaining.
“We mixed things up a little bit offensively as we needed a change to simplify our action and decision making by our guards,” Binford said. “The kids applied it well and we were able to get some more movement from our posts.”
Smith ended the game shooting nine-of-12 from the field and seven-of-eight from the line. Also in double-figures were Kuderer 12 and Oliana Squires 11.
MSU held a 42-31 advantage under the glass as Smith and Squires each grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Squires posted a solid stat-line adding six assists and three steals, while backcourt mate Martell recorded six points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists.
“Oli (Oliana) and Tori were key pieces of our zone and they had to be super active,” Binford said. “A lot of Weber State’s shooting came from the top position and they had to know where the shooters were and stay at home. Offensively, you have to get post touches from somewhere, and they were the ones that really ran our offense and got us going.”
Weber State was paced by J’aiamoni Welch-Coleman with 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Montana State will play at Montana on Saturday, Feb. at 2 p.m. in Dahlberg Arena.