MOSCOW, Idaho — (Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
When things looked bleak, the Bobcats looked in a familiar direction.
“Darian put the team on her shoulders,” Montana State coach Tricia Binford said of her star point guard Darian White, “and we had a number of other kids step up, as well.” MSU’s brilliant guard scored a career high 32 points to help her team obliterate a 14-point second half deficit on its way to a 96-84 win over Idaho in Moscow on Monday.
The 26-point turnaround pushed Montana State’s win streak to eight games, which started with the team’s home win over the Vandals on January 17. Coupled with Southern Utah’s home loss on Monday, the Cats now stand alone in first place in the Big Sky Conference.
“This is an amazing group of kids,” Binford said. “It’s one of the best performances I have seen to overcome that level of shooting. To have a team that believes and then chips away and keeps fighting down the stretch is a great feeling.”
Through three quarters Idaho shot 52%, including a scorching 56% during the third quarter in which the team built a 14-point advantage. Even while the Vandals were building their 77-68 lead after the third quarter, MSU kept contact with hot shooting of its own. The Cats matched UI’s 52% shooting entering the fourth quarter.
“It seems like a lot of our games with Idaho go like this,” Binford said. “We talked about digging in on defense and making those hustle plays.”
Montana State’s defense rose to the occasion in the final stanza. The Bobcats limited Idaho to 2-for-12 shooting while hitting 10 of their 16 shots from the floor to flip the script.
But Binford said that her team’s willingness to scrap made the difference. “In the fourth KJ (Limardo) got us second chance opportunities, we got O-board after O-board, which led to scoring opportunities while running time off the clock. Gabby (Mocchi) was tremendous, hitting big shots and making winning plays.”
Mocchi scored 21 points, joining White in posting a career high on the strength of 7-for-9 shooting. White added eight assists, six rebounds, and three steals. Kola Bad Bear chipped in 14 points and led all players with seven rebounds, and Limardo scored 10 points with six rebounds.
Montana State, now 14-3 since a November 27 win against Cal Poly, raised its record to 15-8 overall and 10-2 in Big Sky play. The Vandals fall to 5-14 overall, 4-6 in the conference. Montana State remains on the road, visiting Portland State on Thursday before traveling to Northern Arizona on Saturday.