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Montana State Bobcats defeat Sacramento State to win Big Sky Conference regular-season title

Posted: 11:17 PM, Feb 27, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-28 15:08:18-05
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(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics press release)

BOZEMAN -- Montana State had seven players in double-figure scoring as the Bobcats cruised to a 113-69 victory over Sacramento State on Thursday night to claim the Big Sky Conference regular season title outright and the No. 1 seed at the league tournament March 9-14 in Boise, Idaho.

Montana State (20-6, 16-1) extended its current win streak to 12 victories- second longest in school history- shooting 60% from the field, including an 11-of-22 effort from long distance. It’s 38 points in the third quarter were the most in a 10-minute period this winter and its 113 points marked the seventh time the Cats have produced 90 points or more.

Leading the way for MSU was Oliana Squires with a game-high 19 points. The senior from Colorado Springs, Colo., connected on six-of-eight from three-point range. Her three 3-pointers in the opening frame helped MSU build a 25-17 lead heading into the second quarter.

Sacramento State (8-19, 6-12) would get no closer as the Bobcats opened the second stanza on an 18-0 run sparked by Tori Martell with three triples and Martha Kuderer with seven points. Montana State held a 58-31 cushion at halftime.

“I can’t explain how good they looked in the open court in transition in the first half,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “It was really like a clinic. Darian (White) found everybody. The way they’re sharing the ball right now is kind of the next level for them.”

MSU built its largest lead of the contest at 99-50 with 8:55 left on Martell’s fourth three-pointer.

Also notching double-digits for MSU were Madeline Smith 16, Kuderer 14, Fallyn Freije 14, White 13, Blaire Braxton 13 and Martell 12.

“Once you get loose, the rim gets a little bit bigger and kids were finding each other,” Binford added. “We’re at the time of year where they know their sets, they know their actions and now they’re not thinking the game. They’re just seeing what’s available, what’s open and just moving off each other.”

The Bobcats dished out a season-high 29 assists as White posted a double-double with a career-best 11 assists. Squires also recorded seven assists, while grabbing two steals. MSU held a 47-37 advantage under the boards as Smith and Kola Bad Bear guided MSU with eight and seven rebounds, respectively.

All ten Bobcat players dressed for the game played 10 minutes or more.

Summer Menke paced Sacramento State with 17 points and four rebounds.

MSU’s 16 Big Sky Conference victories matches Montana and Idaho State for most in league history.

Montana State will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday when it hosts Northern Arizona at 2 p.m.