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Slow start dooms Lady Griz comeback, Montana State Bobcats complete two-game sweep

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Posted at 4:41 PM, Jan 30, 2021

MISSOULA — After the Montana State Bobcats got out to a hot start, they held off a late Montana rally to sweep the Lady Griz for the third year in a row with a 70-60 women's basketball win inside Dahlberg Arena on Saturday.

Montana State started the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from Darian White and Gabby Mocchi to make it a quick 6-0 lead.

On the other side, Montana struggled to score early and allowed the Bobcats to take a 13-2 lead. However, Montana closed the gap toward the end of the first and cut the Bobcat lead to eight points.

In the second quarter, MSU came out firing again while the Lady Griz struggled to find any offense. The Bobcats went on a 9-4 run before Montana locked in. Montana State outscored Montana by one point in the quarter, 20-19, to take a 39-30 lead into the half.

In the second half, Montana hung by the Bobcats' side but could never grasp the lead.

After scoring five points in the first half, Carmen Gfeller came alive for Montana, scoring 17 second-half points. With 7:43 left in the third quarter, Gfeller scored six straight points to cut the Bobcat lead to four points.

MSU responded, going on a 5-0 run as it built the lead back up to nine heading to the final 10 minutes.

MSU's White went cold from the field in the second half, shooting 0 for 6 from the field, but scored 10 points from the free throw line.

In the fourth quarter, Montana cut the lead to five points two times but couldn't get any closer.

Montana State's defense locked in and the Bobcats hit clutch free throws down the stretch to complete the rivalry sweep.

“The last few weeks we've really started to turn a corner, particularly on the defensive end as far as understanding what our defensive schemes are and the intensity that it takes to do it by possessions," said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. "You are kind of seeing the results of that right now. We have a long ways to go, we put Montana to the foul line 25 times, so they did a great job getting points in the paint on us (Saturday) but just kind of grinding it out and found a way towards the end there.”

White led the Bobcats in scoring with 19 points on 3-for-11 shooting from the field and 12 for 14 from the line. Tori Martell added 10 points of her own on 3 for 6 from the field and 2 for 4 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"It's a great win for us," said White. "Not just because it's a rivalry game but just for us to get a sweep, in general. I think any team that's playing those knows that's difficult to do. Whether you're on the road or at home it's hard to prove you're consistent. Playing a team on Thursday, having to turn around and play them on Saturday and have to do the things you did before but even better."

As a team, MSU went 21 for 59 from the field, 9 for 21 from 3-point range and 19 for 23 from the free throw line.

Montana shot 17 for 47 from the field, 3 for 18 from deep and 23 for 25 from the line.

Gfeller led all scorers with 22 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field and 10 for 11 from the free throw line. Abby Anderson finished with a double-double as she added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Griz.

MSU (6-2 in conference) will next host Weber State (0-8 in conference) Thursday at 7 p.m., while Montana (4-4 in conference) will host Portland State (3-5 in conference) at the same time.