(Editors Note: Montana State athletics press releases)
Montana State rattled off 15 consecutive points over a span that covered the final moments of the opening quarter and the beginning of the second to build a lead it would hold for all but 19-seconds en route to a 63-57 victory over Northern Colorado in the Big Sky Conference opener for both squads on Thursday night in Worthington Arena.
Tied early at eight-all, Montana State (3-5, 1-0) went on a 15-0 run as five different players scored. The stretch was capped by Leia Beattie’s three-pointer at the 7:53 mark giving the Bobcats a 23-8 cushion. Northern Colorado (2-4, 0-1) whittled the margin to 28-26 at intermission behind three triples via Allie Downing.
“It was a gritty performance,” said Ellen Kreighbaum women’s head basketball coach Tricia Binford. “We didn’t ever get into a full rhythm and we had to find ways down the stretch, and we had a good finish.
“I thought we started off really well,” Binford added. “We came in to establish a defensive mindset and were able to get some steals and turnovers and get out and run. In the final two minutes you could see the kids’ attack-mindedness turn on, and we need to have that over the course of an entire game. We can’t afford to shut it off at any point. The beginning and the end were fantastic, but in the middle, we had a lot of mistakes we need to clean up.”
The Bears took its only lead at the 7:34 mark of the third stanza on another Downing three-pointer, but MSU quickly answered with a 9-0 run highlighted by Taylor Janssen’s triple with 5:57 left in the quarter. Montana State held a 44-41 advantage heading into the final stanza.
Darian White’s jumper with 5:24 left gave the Bobcats a seven-point cushion heading down the stretch, but Northern Colorado would climb to within two points on two occasions, the last coming with 56-seconds left on a Hannah Simental 3-pointer.
The Bobcats went five-of-six from the free throw line in the final 17-seconds to secure the win.
Katelynn Limardo led MSU with a team-high 15 points, while Beattie added 11 and White 10. For the game, Montana State shot 39.3% from the field, but hit at a 44.4% clip in the second half.
Both teams pulled down 34 rebounds with Kola Bad Bear pacing the Bobcats under the glass with a game-high nine rebounds.
UNC was led by Downing with 18 points, including a six-of-10 effort from beyond the arc.
Montana State plays Sacramento State on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Worthington Arena.
The Big Sky Conference opener for the Montana State and Northern Colorado men's basketball teams came down to overtime where the Bears eventually completed a 77-75 victory over the Bobcats on Thursday, Dec. 2, at Bank of Colorado Arena.
The two sides struggled offensively in the first half with each team shooting under 35% from the field. Northern Colorado held a two-point lead at the break and extended its advantage to 39-32 just three minutes into the second half on a Bodie Hume dunk.
Montana State responded. The 'Cats followed with a 13-2 run of their own, with six points coming from Jubrile Belo, to put MSU up 45-41 after a nearly four-minute scoring spree. The Bobcats held a lead for almost 10 minutes before the Bears tied the score at 57 with 3:28 remaining.
Northern Colorado jumped out a 62-61 edge with 1:14 left following a Hume 3-pointer. MSU tied the score at 62 when Belo hit one of two free throws, then after a missed jumper by the Bears, Belo back to convert on a layup under the rim with 17 seconds to go to put the Bobcats up by two points.
The ensuing possession saw the Bears drive the line with Daylen Kountz going up for a contested layup. His shot wouldn't fall in, but the resulting putback by Kor Jongkuch tied the score and sent the game to overtime.
The extra five minutes was all Northern Colorado to start as the Bears score the first nine of 11 points between the two squads in the period. UNC had a seven-point advantage whittled down to 3 with 20 seconds remaining, but two free throws by the Bears late eventually sealed the win for the home side. The Bears were 5 of 6 from the field in the overtime while MSU went just 4-for-11.
Five Bobcats scored in double digits led by Xavier Bishop's 17 points. Amin Adamu, Jubrile Belo and Tyler Patterson each shot over 50% for the 'Cats. Abdul Mohamed had a team-high 11 rebounds. MSU fell to 4-4 overall in the loss.
Northern Colorado was led by Kountz's 21 points while Jongkuch and Matt Johnson each had 14 points. The Bears improved to 4-4 overall.
"It was a game that had two teams that competed their butts off," Montana State head coach Danny Sprinkle said. "You can't win on the road when you have that many breakdowns defensively. We have to get better at that. The last couple of games it's happened and we've gotten away with it, but against a good team you won't. We made it too easy for them late in the game."
Montana State returns to action at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, when the Bobcats take on Sacramento State. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ while fans can also tune into the Bobcat Radio Network locally or on msubobcats.com/watch and on the Varsity Network app.