(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
BOZEMAN -- Montana State freshman Lexi Deden poured in a career-high 22 points to lead five Bobcat players in double-figures as MSU completed a weekend sweep of Northern Arizona defeating the Lumberjacks 90-65 on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena.
Deden, a product of Missoula, connected on 10-of-14 from the field, including a six-of-eight performance in the first half to spark the Montana State (7-5, 4-2) attack. In addition, the Missoula Sentinel grad hauled down seven rebounds, dished out two assists and added a steal.
“Lexi’s turnaround has become a money shot for us,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “It was unstoppable today. For us, to get her a post touch, especially in transition, is something we look for. Lexi has done a good job slowing down and getting her feet under her, getting her balance. I love what she’s doing offensively, but you can’t under value what she does on the defensive end and on the glass.”
The Bobcats opened the first quarter shooting 43.8% from the field behind Deden’s eight-point effort. The MSU defense held Northern Arizona (6-8, 4-6) to just 20% from the floor as the Bobcats carried an 11-point cushion into the second period.
NAU closed to within three points in the second stanza, but the Bobcats used a three-pointer by freshman Leia Beattie with 25-seconds left to take a 39-30 advantage into intermission.
Montana State opened the second half with three consecutive three-pointers, including back-to-back triples by Gabby Mocchi to push the MSU margin to 16 points. MSU outscored NAU 27-16 in the third frame, connecting on five 3-pointers.
A Tori Martell triple at the 8:04 mark of the final quarter gave MSU its biggest lead at 73-48 and the Bobcats cruised to its fifth straight victory over Northern Arizona.
“Our depth, our balance and our defense were outstanding,” Binford said. “Our defense has really made our offense smoother. Our kids are getting locked into what it takes to be great on the defensive end. To be the best, you’ve got to be consistent there to start. I thought we put together two very consistent games against a very high-level scoring opponent.”
Also hitting double-figures for MSU were Beattie and Martel 14, Darian White 12, and Mocchi 10. The Bobcats finished the contest shooting 50.8% from the field and 48.1% from beyond the arc. The Montana State bench outscored the Lumberjacks 44-20.
MSU also won the battle of the boards, outrebounding NAU 41-36. White guided the Bobcats with a team-high nine rebounds. She also added six assists and two steals.
NAU shot 40.6% from the floor but were just four-of-22 from long distance. The Lumberjacks were led by Khiarica Rasheed with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bobcats will host Montana in the annual Brawl of the Wild showdown on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. in Worthington Arena.