(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics press release)
BOZEMAN -- Three Montana State players scored in double figures and three others added at least eight points as the Bobcats used a balanced attack to defeat Idaho State 67-59 on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena in front of 2,357 fans.
“We’ve talked all season about our strength being in the team,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “All season we’ve had different kids step up. We’re a team that is never going to have a conference player of the week, because of our unselfishness. And, this game was no different. Everyone filled their role, and everyone contributed and when you do that, you’ll have success.”
Montana State (12-6, 8-1) trailed Idaho State (8-10, 4-5) early, but a three-pointer by Fallyn Freije at the 8:18 mark of the opening quarter gave the Bobcats a lead it would never relinquish. MSU built a seven-point cushion, however ISU closed the margin to three heading into the second stanza.
“I thought our starters got us out to a great start,” Binford said. “We were able to get the lead and I think that really helped with our composure. We just settled in and played a very steady, consistent game.”
The Bobcats took its largest lead of the first half at 27-19 on an Oliana Squires jumper with 1:42 left in the period. MSU held a 29-24 lead at intermission. Martha Kuderer paced MSU with eight points in the first half.
Montana State opened the second half on a 6-0 run to take an 11-point advantage on a Darian White jumper. The Bengals whittled the margin to three points with 1:15 left, but the Bobcats closed out the quarter on four straight points from Squires, including an off-balanced 18-footer from the top of the key as time expired.
“It was just Oli doing Oli things,” Binford said. “It also gave us a good spark heading into the fourth quarter.”
MSU maintained its lead for the first five-minutes of the final quarter, before ISU trimmed the margin to 52-47 with 5:31 remaining on a fast break layup by Tomekia Whitman. Leading by five points with 4:53 left the Bobcats scored six unanswered points over the span of three-minutes. Freije’s head-fake and layup from the right wing gave MSU an 11-point margin and secured the victory with 1:18 remaining.
“I thought we were solid on both ends of the floor,” Binford said. “When you talk about ball screen action, ISU does it all. And, I felt our ability to communicate was a big factor for us. Idaho State is one of the most difficult teams in the league to guard.”
MSU was paced by Freije with a game-high 15 points, ten of which came in the second half. Also in double-digits were Squires 13 and White 12. Madeline Smith 9, Kuderer 8, and Blaire Braxton 8 rounded-out Montana State’s balanced offensive output.
The Bobcats shot 43.3 percent from the field and connected on 13-17 from the line, while the Bengals hit at a 43.6 percent clip. MSU held a 38-31 advantage under the boards led by Freije with a game-high eight rebounds. Montana State also forced Idaho State into 17 turnovers and converted ISU’s miscues into 13 points.
The Bengals were led by Callie Bourne with 15 points and five rebounds.
Montana State travels to Missoula next Saturday to face Montana at 2 p.m. in Dahlberg Arena.