(Editor's note: Montana State University news release)
BOZEMAN — Montana State senior Katelynn Limardo filled the stat sheet with a career-high 25 points connecting on seven-of-11 from the field, five-of-nine from beyond the arc and six-of-seven from the free throw line to lift the Bobcats to a 71-58 victory over North Texas on Thursday night in Worthington Arena.
Limardo, a 6-2 guard from Silver City N.M., also grabbed a team-high six rebounds, while dishing out two assists and adding in three steals.
“Katelynn needs a really good ice bath,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “KJ is impacting every area of the stat sheet. Her ability to get to the free throw line, play off the bounce, post up, and hit the three-ball are all clicking for her. She is also putting tremendous energy on the defensive end, and to be able to produce the same energy on the offensive end is pretty remarkable.”
Montana State (5-6) jumped out early on North Texas (10-2), the top team in the American Athletic Conference heading into Thursday’s contest. Freshman Issy Bunyan’s three-pointer at the 3:38 mark gave the Bobcats an 11-point lead. MSU held a 20-12 advantage after ten minutes of play.
The Bobcats shot 53.3% from the field and connected on four-of-seven from long distance in the first quarter as six different players scored. “We hit some outside shots early,” Binford said. “We wanted to set the tone for the game.”
MSU shot 12.5% in the second stanza, hitting just two-of-16 from the floor. The Bobcats held a 28-24 lead at intermission as the Mean Green closed out the half on an 8-0 run.
“The consistency of our defense gives us time when our offense goes on some cold streaks,” Binford said. “We certainly want to get our offense more consistent and at halftime we regrouped and talked about getting the balance of the interior going, getting more post touches, and playing more inside-out. And we wanted to attack the rim. I thought our kids really executed that in the second half.”
After scoring the first basket of the second half, North Texas, who saw its eight-game winning streak snapped, went on a 6-0 run to even the contest at 30-all. The Bobcats closed out the period on an 8-3 run to take a seven-point cushion into the final frame.
MSU pushed the margin to 55-42 on a three-point play by Limardo with 8:17 remaining, but the Mean Green answered whittling its deficit to four points with 3 minutes, 41 seconds left.
Sophomore Marah Dykstra responded a minute later with a three-point play to give MSU a 60-53 advantage and the Bobcats were never challenged down the stretch closing out the night on an 11-2 run sparked by nine points from Taylor Janssen.
“I’m so proud of the team for the way they closed out the game,” Binford said. “One of the big details when you have a team that’s had a lot of kids going out and coming back from injury is finding out whose hands you want the ball to be in and that’s something we’re still learning. This was our best game as far as finishing the game, finishing quarters, and making right decisions.”
Madison Hall and Janssen each finished in double digits chipping in 12 and 11 points, respectively. Both players also grabbed five rebounds apiece as MSU held a narrow 34-33 advantage under the glass. Dykstra ended with nine points, while dishing out three assists and pulling down four rebounds.
North Texas was paced by Tommisha Lampkin with 18 points and four rebounds.
“Our preseason schedule has been one of the toughest, if not the toughest during my time at Montana State,” Binford said. “After that long stretch on the road we were very fatigued and needed time in our own beds. These last two games I think we’ve been able to get our legs and energy back.
“North Texas is a very good team, and it came down to possessions,” Binford added. “And credit to our kids for executing the game plan.”
Montana State opens its Big Sky Conference season hosting Idaho State, Thursday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m., in Worthington Arena.