Game Recap

Balanced Bobcat women cruise past NAU

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Montana State held the Big Sky’s top offensive team 17 points under their season average and the Bobcats offense hit on all cylinders en route to a 79-56 victory over Northern Arizona on Thursday night in Worthington Arena.

Montana State (6-5, 3-2) jumped out early building a 16-2 lead on an Ava Ranson three-pointer. Northern Arizona (6-7, 4-5) closed the margin to six-points at the end of the quarter, but the Bobcats used a strong first-half defensive effort to force the Lumberjacks into 16 turnovers- resulting in 18 points- to put enough room between them and the Lumberjacks on the way to its fourth straight win over NAU.

MSU entered intermission with a 35-22 advantage.

“We came out to do the job on the defensive end and the offense just kind of came,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “(NAU) came into the game with six kids averaging double-digits and with the best offensive team in the conference statistically. We knew we were going to have our hands full. Our kids were really locked in, and on offense, we didn’t force the issue.”

Montana State sophomore guard Darian White rises up for a shot vs. Northern Arizona Thursday/by Garrett Becker – Montana State Athletics

The Bobcats shot 43.3% in the first half, while the Lumberjacks went 33.3% from the floor.

A jumper in the lane by Kola Bad Bear, pushed MSU’s lead to twenty points with six-seconds left in the third period. The Bobcats were able to clear the bench in the fourth frame, grabbing its biggest lead at 77-51 on a bucket by freshman Taylor Janssen.

“The ball hit a lot of people’s hands,” Binford said. “We challenged the kids in a variety of ways this past week and I saw a new level of focus, a new mind set. Our guards were knocking down shots and we were able to get our posts going. That was our first complete game with that balance with a lot of different pieces contributing.”

MSU was led by Tori Martell with a game-high 16 points. She was followed by Darian White 15 and Ranson 12. Ranson, a freshman from Boise, Idaho, went four-of-five from long distance to spark the Bobcats offense.

As a team, the Bobcats shot 51.7% from the field, while holding the Lumberjacks to 37%.

Montana State freshman Ava Ranson (5) shoots a three vs. Northern Arizona Thursday/by Garrett Becker – Montana State Athletics

NAU held a slim 34-33 margin under the boards. The Bobcats were led by Lexi Deden with a game-high eight rebounds. The Missoula product also posted eight points and a team-best four steals.

The Lumberjacks, who entered the contest averaging 73.2 points per game, were paced by Nyah Moran with 15 points. Northern Arizona had six players averaging double-figures coming into the game, but none hit double-digits.

MSU will host NAU on Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. in Worthington Arena. The Bobcats have yet to sweep a Big Sky Conference series.

“We need to decide what we’re going to be on Saturdays,” Binford said. “NAU missed a lot of free throws and some open shots and you can’t rely on them doing that again. We need to stay hungry, prepare well and get after it for another forty minutes.”

Press release courtesy of Tom Shulz – Montana State Sports Information.

Photos by Garrett Becker – Montana State Sports Information. All Rights Reserved.

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