(Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
BOZEMAN — Montana State’s Kola Bad Bear scored 15 of her game-high 17 points in the second half to spark the Bobcats to a 64-52 win over Portland State on Thursday night in Worthington Arena.
The victory, coupled with Montana’s 81-77 win over Sacramento State, moved Montana State (14-7, 7-2) into first place atop the Big Sky Conference standings a ½ game ahead of the Hornets, who visit Worthington Arena on Saturday at 1 p.m.
MSU struggled finding its offensive groove in the opening 20-minutes, shooting just 25% from the field, including a one-of-12 effort in the second quarter. The Bobcats entered intermission with a 24-21 advantage behind a 9-of-12 performance from the free throw line.
“We struggled early knocking down some open looks,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “Fortunately, we were able to get inside and go through the foul line for a slight lead at halftime.”
Portland State (9-9, 4-4) used an 11-3 run midway through the third quarter to take its largest lead at 35-31 following a three-pointer by Esmeralda Morales but the Bobcats answered with a 10-2 run of its own, closing out the stanza on a Grace Beasley triple with 8-seconds left in the period.
Holding a four-point lead heading into the final quarter, the Bobcats scored six unanswered points to begin the final 10-minutes as a Lexi Deden offensive putback gave MSU a 47-37 lead with 8-minutes, 9-seconds remaining.
The Vikings cut the margin to 52-47 with just over four minutes left but the Bobcats shut the door with a 10-2 run, taking its largest lead at 64-49 on a Darian White jumper. White’s basket moved her into fourth on MSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,530 career points, moving past Bobcat Hall of Famer Kati Burrows Mobley (1,528).
“Coming into the game our goal was to get the ball inside,” Binford said. “I thought our post play in the second half was key. And credit the guards for setting our post players up for success. It was great to Kola have a strong second half.”
MSU shot 53.6% from the field in the second half and connected on seven-of-eight from the line.
Beasley, who received her first start as a Bobcat, led MSU under the boards with a game-high seven rebounds. The senior from Melbourne, Australia also added nine points, five steals and three assists.
MSU junior Taylor Janssen came off the bench for 10 points, her second double-digit scoring game of the season. MSU held a slim 38-37 advantage under the glass.
Morales and Jade Lewis paced the Vikings with 11 points, apiece.