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Montana State women go cold in second half in Big Sky loss at Portland State

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Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 22, 2024

(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics release.)

PORTLAND, Ore. — After torching the net at a 50% clip in the opening half Montana State hit at an icy 22.6% rate in the final twenty minutes as Portland State rallied from an 11-point third quarter deficit to record a 60-55 win over the Bobcats on Thursday night in Viking Pavilion.

Montana State (14-13, 8-6) held a 34-25 advantage at intermission after connecting on 14-of-28 from the field, which included a five-of-nine effort from beyond the three-point arc. Madison Hall’s triple at the buzzer sent the Bobcats into halftime with a nine-point cushion.

Sophomore Marah Dykstra converted a pair of free throws at the 4:42 mark of the third period giving MSU a 42-31 lead. Portland State (7-20, 2-13) closed out the stanza with an 11-4 run pulling within four points heading into the final frame.

MSU held the lead until Esmeralda Morales connected on her first three-pointer of the game with 5:10 remaining giving the Vikings its first advantage of the second half and a lead it wouldn’t relinquish down the stretch.

The Bobcats went seven-of-31 from the field in the second half, including just one-of-15 from long distance. PSU converted 14-of-24 (58.3%) and were five-of-nine behind the arc.

“It’s a disappointing loss,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “We’re a much better team than what we showed. Credit Portland State, they picked up their physicality and we didn’t. We didn’t get stops, we got low on the shot clock, and we lost the composure piece.”

Dykstra paced the Bobcat with 16 points, while Taylor Janssen added 10, and Hall and Issy Bunyan 9. Bunyan’s output all came in the first half on three 3-pointers.

Morales, the preseason Big Sky Conference MVP choice, was held to two points in the first half but caught fire in the second finishing with a game-high 20 points.

MSU outrebounded the Vikings 35-26 as Dykstra, Hall and Limardo each pulled down six boards. The Bobcats registered 19 offensive rebounds and dished out 18 assists- both the second-best totals of the season.

“You would think if you had 19 o-boards and 18 assists you would be on the winning end,” Binford said. “But we gave up the three, and we didn’t cause many mistakes on their end and that hurt us.”

Montana State plays at Sacramento State on Saturday at 2 p.m.