(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
CHENEY, Wash. -- Montana State jumped out early and never looked back as the Bobcats used a smothering defense and two strong offensive quarters, en route to a 73-42 win over Eastern Washington on Thursday night at Reese Court.
The victory was Montana State’s (12-5, 9-2) seventh consecutive win. The Bobcats have won their last seven games by an average 27 points.
Freshman Katelynn Limardo paced the Bobcats in the opening 10-minutes with eight points as MSU shot 55.6% from the field, while the limiting Eastern Washington (6-12, 5-8) to just 14.3%. Montana State held a 27-6 advantage heading into the second stanza.
Neither team could find any rhythm in the second quarter as both squads scored six points, apiece.
“I loved the way we started,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “We had great energy. But then we had an awful second quarter both offensively and defensively. We got too stagnant and we were doing things that are not part of our identity.”
The Bobcats held a 33-12 lead at intermission.
MSU opened the second half with back-to-back baskets by Gabby Mocchi and built a 30-point cushion on an Ashley Van Sickle three-pointer with 3-minutes, 36-seconds left in the period. EWU closed out the quarter on a 16-4 run, cutting its deficit to 18 points.
“We let Eastern get 20 points and they outscored us in the third quarter,” Binford said. “That’s a major concern. We need to raise our standard and lock-in for a full 40-minutes. We had too many inconsistent possessions.”
Bobcat sophomore Darian White got MSU back on track to open the final frame, posting six points, three steals, one assist and one offensive rebound in a span of two minutes to put the game out of reach. White flirted with her first triple-double recording 16 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven steals. She also dished out a team-best four assists.
“Darian had an outstanding game,” Binford said. “Overall, I thought our backcourt did an outstanding job disrupting Eastern Washington on the defensive end and setting the tone offensively. Both Tori (Martel) and Ashley (Van Sickle) did a tremendous job, as well.”
Martell matched White for scoring honors with 16 points, including a pair of triples. Also in double-digits was Van Sickle with 10 points going 4-of-5 from the field.
As a team, MSU shot 40.8% from the floor, but hit at a 47.1% clip in the second half.
Montana State held Eastern Washington to 26.5% as EWU’s 42 points were a season-low for the Bobcat defense. MSU held a 44-34 advantage under the boards. Also guiding MSU under the glass was Kola Bad Bear with a season-high seven rebounds.
Eastern Washington was led by Grace Kirscher with 12 points, including three 3-pointers.
“I loved the way we responded in the fourth quarter, with Darian leading the way,” Binford said. “But we have to learn that we can’t be in-and-out. Eastern Washington is too good and will knock down their shots and have a chip on their shoulders on Saturday afternoon.”
MSU and Eastern Washington will finish its series on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. (MT) in Cheney.