(Editor's note: Montana State Press release)
BOZEMAN -- Montana State senior and the reigning Big Sky Conference Top Reserve Tori Martell nailed a Bobcat school-record eight three-pointers and scored a career-high 26 points to lift MSU to an 84-72 victory over North Dakota on Sunday afternoon in Worthington Arena as the Bobcats opened its 2020-21 campaign.
With the victory, Montana State ran its consecutive win streak to 18 games, also a school record. The 2019-20 Bobcats rattled off 17 straight victories from Jan. 11 to March 11 to setup Sunday’s record setting performance.
Montana State (1-0) hit seven triples in the opening stanza as six different Bobcats connected from long distance. Coupled with two Darian White free throws, the Bobcats led 23-16 after the opening 10 minutes. MSU pushed the margin to 42-33 at intermission behind 15 points from Martell and eight via White. In all, MSU connected on 10-of-21 from beyond the arc at the break, while Martell went five-of-five from 3-point territory.
“It feels really good and I feel like we got those first game jitters out,” Martell said. “We’re just starting to play together now, people had to step-up and they stepped-up and we came together and won.”
Montana State took its largest lead of contest at 56-35 on a Martell three-pointer at the 5:51 mark of the third frame. North Dakota (0-2) finished the third quarter on an 11-3 run to cut MSU’s advantage to 62-49 heading into the final 10-minutes.
The Fighting Hawks closed to with 76-67 with three-minutes remaining, but MSU answered with a three-pointer from freshman Taylor Janssen and Martell’s eighth triple to secure the victory.
“Every team is going to have a story of how difficult this has been,” said 16th year head coach Tricia Binford. “It’s been a long time coming for this opening tip. From a mental standpoint, this was huge just to get this game under our belt. But, number two, I am really proud of them from an effort standpoint. It was just great to get out there.”
Martell finished connecting on eight-of-11 from long distance and added a pair of free throws to shatter her previous career-high of 19 points set during her sophomore season.
“I feel this year I’m going to take every single open look I get,” Martell said. “Darian (White) finds me all the time. I don’t even realize if I make ‘em or miss them. I’m just shooting my shot and taking all the open looks I can get.”
White finished with 22 points- just one point short of matching her career-high. The Boise product went seven-of-12 from the field and was seven-of-12 from the line, as well. White also added six assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Also posting double-digits for MSU was Janssen with 10 points. The 6-3 freshman from Rosemount, Minn., also recorded five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
UND held a sizeable 52-39 advantage under the boards as MSU gave up 22 offensive rebounds to the Fighting Hawks. Bobcat freshman Katelynn Limardo guided Montana State under the glass with a team-high six rebounds.
For the game, MSU shot 38.6% from the field and tallied 14-of-40 from beyond the arc. The Bobcats defense held UND to just two-of-16 from long distance.
“This team can really shoot it,” Binford said. “That’s a huge strength for this team. We knew they were going to pack the paint, but we do need to get better with balance. We definitely are not going to be able to live and die by the three-point shot so we’ve got to get our high-low game going and we got to get into our ball screen offense with our posts clearing out of the blocks. We just never got into that flow very well.”
Montana State will play at Brigham Young on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. in Provo, Utah.