(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – Montana State’s Madeline Smith posted a career-high 27 points as MSU’s dominance in the paint paid dividends in a 70-55 victory over Southern Utah on Monday night in America First Events Center.
The junior from Snohomish, Wash., connected on 12-20 from the field, including a seven-of-12 effort and 17 points in the first half. Smith also finished with six rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
“I loved how we came out attacking the paint and following the defensive game plan,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “Madeline’s performance was incredible, and the guards really distributed the ball. It’s the best teamwork we’ve shown in a long time.”
Montana State (15-13, 10-8) out-scored Southern Utah (7-21, 4-15) 14-6 in the first quarter, all coming from its post players, as Smith poured in eight points, while Blaire Braxton came off the bench for six.
The Thunderbirds whittled the lead down to four points at the 1:32 mark of the second period, but the Bobcats closed out the frame on a 5-0 run to take a 31-22 lead into intermission.
MSU disbursed its scoring in the third quarter as four Bobcats – Smith, Tori Martell, Oliana Squires and Gabby Mocchi- all produced six points to push the Bobcat advantage to 22-points heading into the fourth stanza.
The Bobcats built its largest lead at 62-38 on a Smith layup with 8:50 left and cruised to the victory.
“It was a total team effort,” Binford said. “We were attack-minded and I thought we did a fantastic job on the glass.”
Montana State registered 42 points in the paint, it’s highest total of the season. The Bobcats out-rebounds Southern Utah 45-26 and were paced under the boards by Martha Kuderer with a game-high eight rebounds.
Also hitting double-digits for MSU was Braxton with 10 points on five-of-nine from the field. Squires finished with a solid stat line matching a career-high nine assists to go along with eight points, three rebounds and a steal.
SUU was led by Breanu Reid with 21 points and five assists.
The Bobcats will close out its regular-season slate when it hosts Sacramento State on Thursday night and Portland State on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena.