(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics press release)
BOZEMAN -- No. 18-ranked Gonzaga shot 51% from the floor and out-scored Montana State in each quarter on its way to a 70-55 win in Bozeman on Thursday.
The Zags limited Montana State to 37.5% shooting from the floor and held the Cats without a three-point field goal for the first time since Jan. 24, 2013.
Montana State (4-3) scored the first three points of the second half to pull to within 29-25, but Gonzaga’s (7-1) Katie Campbell answered with a three-pointer to key a 7-0 run to give the Zags a 36-25 lead.
“When it broke open, they hit some timely threes and stretched it and we were super cold from the perimeter,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “You’re going against length and a very talented team, so percentages typically come down and it’s very rare for us not to put a three-pointer on the board. That’s got to be a part of our game for us to be successful.”
For the first 20-minutes, Montana State went toe-to-toe with the Zags trailing by one after the first frame and 29-22 at intermission. The Bobcats were led in the opening half by Oliana Squires and Fallyn Freije with eight and six points, respectively.
“I liked how we battled,” Binford said. “I loved how we defended in the interior, in the paint, I thought it gave us a chance going into halftime and keeping them under 30, which was really our objective and keep them under 15 per quarter, but that third quarter kind of got away from us.”
Gonzaga out-scored the Bobcats 17-9 in the third period and connected on seven-of-ten 3-pointers after halftime. The Bobcats whittled a 21-point deficit with just over two minutes remaining down to fifteen sparked by a 6-0 run to close out the contest.
The Bobcats defense forced Gonzaga into 21 turnovers, while committing 19 miscues. The Zags held a 24-13 advantage in points scored off turnovers.
“If you look at our overall half-court defense,” Binford said. “I feel our defense is giving us a chance to be successful. We’ve got to figure some things out on the offensive end.
MSU was paced by Freije and Squires with 18 and 14 points, respectively. The Cats also connected on 13-14 from the free throw line.
Gonzaga was guided by Jill Townsend with 16 points and six rebounds.
MSU will take the next few weeks off before facing Wichita State at the Coqui Classic in Puerto Rico, Dec. 20.