BOZEMAN, Mont. – For the first three minutes everything went Montana State’s way. Then the lid went on the basket.
Over the course of the following seven minutes the Bobcats went without a basket and Portland State built a 20-7 first quarter lead, never looking back in a 68-55 victory on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena. It was the final game of the regular-season for both squads.
Montana State (16-14, 11-9) shot 12.5 percent in the opening frame connecting on two-of-16 attempts. Portland State (22-7, 14-6) went on a 20-0 run to close out the period and built a 35-17 advantage at intermission.
“We got off to a good start,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “Then they got hot and the lid went on the basket for us. We didn’t move the ball very well and our momentum just went flat.”
Trailing by 18-points entering the final quarter, the Bobcats whittled the Vikings lead down to 55-46 with 6:23 remaining on a Tori Martell three-pointer. PSU quickly answered with an 11-0 run to secure the victory.
Montana State was led in the loss by Blaire Braxton and Gabby Mocchi with 11 points, apiece. Mocchi received her first start as a Bobcat as Martha Kuderer was sidelined with an illness.
The Bobcats shot better in the second half, hitting 41.2 percent from the floor. MSU also out-scored the Vikings 38-33. Montana State was led under the boards by Halle Wright and Braxton with nine and seven rebounds, respectively.
“If there was a silver-lining it was the play of our bench,” Binford said. “They came in and gave us some energy and we were able to get some things accomplished.”
Portland State was paced by Desirae Hansen with 22 points and ten rebounds.
Montana State enters next week’s Big Sky Conference tournament as the No. 5 seed and in less than 72-hours will face No. 4-seeded Portland State.
“It’s a new season,” Binford said. “You either find it or you’re done.”
Montana State and Portland State will play on Tuesday, March 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Century Link Arena in Boise, Idaho. The tournament opens on Monday with the bottom six seeds- Eastern Washington, Montana, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, Southern Utah and Weber State.
Press release courtesy of Tom Shulz – Montana Sports Information. Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.