(Editor's note: Montana State press release)
BOZEMAN—The game clock clicked under 20 seconds. The shot clock dwindled. Montana State led by three, with the ball, and starting 30 feet from the basket Darian White did what Darian White does.
She made the biggest play of the game.
The Bobcats’ senior guard approached Idaho State’s sagging defense and let fly a long, arcing three-pointer. The splash-down essentially ended MSU’s 73-68 win over defending league champion Idaho State, avenged an earlier Bobcat loss in Pocatello, and proved satisfying for White.
“Amazing,” she said. “I don’t know what got into me. I was like, ‘They’re disrespecting my shot,’ and I had confidence to take it. When I saw it go in, I was like, ‘Let’s go, this is our game.’”
Just as amazing, the deciding three-pointer was only White’s second field goal of the night, and her first three-pointer. Nonetheless, she led her team in scoring by pouring in nine free throws in 10 tries. She also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists, and logged two steals.
“It was our point guards stepping up,” said Bobcat coach Tricia Binford lauding the play of both White and senior guard Ashley Van Sickle. “We had two point guards on the floor in that situation. I thought Ashley really carried us to weather that storm with the foul trouble we had in the second quarter. Ashley literally played almost all 10 minutes (in the second quarter) and was very, very tired.”
Each team only made three baskets in the fourth quarter. While the Bengals went ice cold from the floor, blanketed by Montana State’s (13-8, 8-2) swarming defense, the Cats attempted only eight field goals while sinking 11 of 12 free throw attempts.
Two of MSU’s three baskets in the final quarter were enormously important three-pointers. While White’s clinched the win, Van Sickle’s came with 5:03 to play and gave MSU its first lead of the fourth quarter. It would be the game’s final lead change.
“We hit big threes down the stretch in critical moments,” Binford said, with “the point guards stepping up. I thought the difference was the mentality. When Darian hit hers, it was like, ‘It’s go time right now.’ I thought our team was a little hesitant on shots in the first half and we got ourselves out of rhythm when we started out pretty hot.”
The victory was the sixth straight for the Bobcats, who haven’t dropped a game since New Year’s Day. Coupled with Idaho’s 82-63 win over Southern Utah on Thursday night in Moscow, the Bobcats are tied with the Thunderbirds atop the Big Sky Conference standings with an 8-2 league ledger.
White finished with 14 points for her 34th consecutive game in double-figure scoring. Also in double digits was Kola Bad Bear with 12, including a 6 of 8 night from the free throw line. MSU’s balanced offense was evident as Katelynn Limardo and Van Sickle each recorded nine points, while Taylor Janssen 8, Leia Beattie 7, and Lexi Dene 7 got in on the action.
For the game, MSU shot 36% from the field and connected on 10 of 26 from long distance. The Bobcats also went 27 of 32 at the line. Defensively, MSU outrebounded Idaho State (13-8, 9-3) 36-34, as Bad Bear pulled down six boards and White five.
ISU was led by Tomekia Whitman with 15 points and ten rebounds.
MSU hosts Weber State on Saturday at 2 p.m., in Worthington Arena.