(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
MINNEAPOLIS – For thirty-four minutes the Montana State women’s basketball team gave Minnesota all it could handle. The Golden Gophers, who received votes in this week’s AP Top 25 poll, rallied from a 12-point third quarter deficit and used a 17-6 run down the stretch to escape MSU’s upset bid handing the Bobcats a 71-60 setback on Saturday afternoon in Williams Arena.
Minnesota (4-1) held a 19-16 lead after the first quarter, but Montana State (3-2) responded in the second frame using a 15-6 run midway through the period to take a 36-29 lead on a Madeline Smith basket with one-minute, 47-seconds remaining until halftime. The Gophers scored the final four points of the quarter. MSU held a three-point cushion heading into intermission.
The Bobcats were led in the first half by Oliana Squires with 14 points, including a four-of-six effort from three-point range. MSU also held a 22-14 advantage under the boards with Fallyn Freije pulling down six rebounds.
“I thought Oliana did a nice job and brought us a lot of steadiness,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “Fallyn was tough on the boards, Darian (White) did a nice job handling their pressure, Madeline (Smith) gave us some good minutes and I felt we got a lot of contributions from everyone.”
For the first time this season, the Bobcats came out of halftime with intensity. MSU opened the period on an 11-2 run to take its largest lead of the contest at 47-35 with six-minutes, eight-seconds left in the quarter. Four different players sparked the MSU run led by Smith with four points.
Minnesota used a late third quarter rally to chip the lead down to 50-47 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Our offense stalled a little in the third quarter but being able to rebound with Minnesota kept us in the game,” Binford stated.
At the five-minute, 58-seconds mark of the fourth quarter the Gophers converted an old-fashion three-point play and took a 55-54 lead- it’s first advantage since the seven-minute, 16-seconds mark of the second period.
UM junior Destiny Pitts took over down the stretch scoring nine of the Gophers last 16 points to secure the victory.
“I’m proud of the resiliency of the team,” Binford said. “They competed hard and came out and put some great quarters together today on both ends of the floor. Minnesota is a very good team and once (Destiny) Pitts got going toward the end of the third quarter the crowd really got going. What a great atmosphere?
“In the end, the game came down to turnovers,” Binford added.
MSU committed 23 turnovers to just 13 miscues for the Gophers. UM held a 28-12 advantage in points scored off turnovers.
Besides Squires, also scoring in double-figures were White 12, and Smith and Freije 11, apiece
As a team, MSU shot 37.9% from the field, 31.6% from beyond the arc and connected on 10-12 free throw attempts. Minnesota finished shooting 36.1% from the floor, 25% from long distance and went 21-28 from the line.
The Bobcats out-rebounded the Golden Gophers 43-33. Freije led MSU under the glass with 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
Pitts paced all scorers with 26 points, while hauling down seven rebounds.
Montana State will play at Seattle U on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. (MT).