(Editor's note: Montana State press release)
GREELEY, Colo.— Darian White’s best effort wasn’t enough, as Northern Colorado upended Montana State 71-63 in Greeley on Friday night.
UNC’s win cost the Bobcats a share of the Big Sky regular season championship, and the Bears did it by scorching the nets from three-point range. Northern Colorado shot 10-22 from the arc while limiting MSU to 6-29 from deep. The Cats slipped to a second-place tie in the Big Sky standings and enter next week’s league tournament as the No. 2 seed and will play the winner of #7 Sacramento State/#10 Weber State on Tuesday, March 8 at 5:30 p.m. in Boise, Idaho.
The dueling storylines in Friday’s contest were Bobcat guard Darian White’s brilliant, MVP-caliber play and Northern Colorado’s outside shooting. White matched a career-high 32 points on 13-18 shooting, snared a team-high eight rebounds, and finished with five steals. She also doled out two assists.
“Darian White had a special game for us,” said Bobcat coach Tricia Binford. “But we need all our people to contribute. We had a little foul trouble, and that made it really challenging.”
On the other side of the equation, Northern Colorado hit 10 of their 22 three-point attempts and outrebounded the Bobcats 42-33. “Credit to Northern Colorado, they shot the ball very well and were killing us on the glass most of the night,” Binford said.
The teams fought to a 33-33 halftime tie, and four minutes into the third quarter the Bobcats held a 41-40 edge. It would be their final lead of the night. Alexis Chapman hit a three-pointer to return the lead to UNC, then made a layup, then Hannah Simental drained a three-pointer and the Bears led 48-41. Chapman scored 10 of her team’s 18 points in the period.
“Our ball pressure was very flat and when you give up extra possessions it’s going to be a long night,” Binford said. “Our post play in general, we just did such a better job at Sac State than we did today keeping the ball out of the paint. We didn’t keep enough eyes on the ball.” UNC post player Kurstyn Harden scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Paced by White’s five steals, the Bobcats stayed in the game by turning Northern Colorado’s 19 turnovers into 27 points. MSU also outscored the Bears 26-20 in the paint, primarily off White’s penetration. While White was 13-18 shooting, the rest of the team was 11-50.
Northern Colorado raised its record to 13-15 overall, 9-11 in the Big Sky, and enters the Big Sky Tournament as the eighth seed. Montana State finished the regular season 19-12 overall, and a 14-6 league mark.