Game Preview

Bobcat women begin Big Sky title defense by hosting Northern Colorado


WHO:             Northern Colorado at Montana State

WHEN:           Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 @ 7:05 p.m. (MST)

WHERE:         Bozeman, Mont. – Worthington Arena (6,722)

RECORDS:      MSU: 3-3, 0-0; Northern Colorado 2-7, 1-3

SERIES:           Montana State leads 16-14; Streak: MSU W3

LAST MTG:    March 10, 2020 at BSC Tourney – MSU 67-62

RADIO:           Live on My 103.5 KZMY FM with Mark Martello on the call; pregame begins 15-minutes prior to opening tip.

VIDEO:            Montana State’s game vs. Northern Colorado on Thursday can be seen on Pluto TV – Channel 1057

LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN:  Montana State will open its 2021 Big Sky Conference schedule when its hosts Northern Colorado, Thursday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. in Worthington Arena. MSU’s scheduled league opener was to be at Southern Utah last Thursday night but was canceled as SUU paused all activities following multiple positive COVID-19 tests among their Tier 1 individuals.

BIG SKY OPENER:  Since the inception of women’s basketball in the Big Sky Conference during the 1988-89 season, the Bobcats are 18-14 in league openers, while Tricia Binford is 7-8 all-time. MSU has won its last five Big Sky openers, including an 85-48 win at Sacramento State. Montana State’s last loss in a league opener came at North Dakota, Jan. 1, 2015 with an 82-74 setback to the Fighting Hawks.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING:  A pair of Bobcats rank among the top 20 in this week’s NCAA Division I statistical rankings. Senior Tori Martell is averaging 3.33 three-pointers per contest. That number ranks No. 1 in the Big Sky Conference and No. 15 in the nation. Sophomore Darian White ranks first in the league averaging 3.33 steals per contest, which ranks No. 16 in the country.

THE SCOUTING REPORT:  Northern Colorado– The Northern Colorado women’s basketball team enters Thursday’s contest with the Bobcats 2-7 overall and 1-3 in Big Sky Conference action. Last week, the Bears split its series with Montana, dropping a 60-56 decision on Friday, before returning the favor with a 77-76 overtime victory on Sunday afternoon. In both contests, UNC held big leads, including a 19-point advantage in its Friday loss and a 24-point cushion in its win. 

Preseason all- Big Sky Conference performer Alisha Davis paced UNC last weekend averaging 15.5 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and two steals per game. For her efforts, she was named the Big Sky Player of the Week. On the season, the 6-2 sophomore forward from Aurora, Colo., is averaging 15.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest. Davis is shooting 45% from the field and 66% at the free throw line. Also averaging in double-digits for the Bears are Jasmine Gayles and Hannah Simental, who average 11.8 and 10.4 points, respectively. UNC is under the leadership of third-year head coach Jenny Huth, who has posted a 36-36 overall mark at UNC. MSU and UNC last met in the first-round of the Big Sky Tourney on March 10, 2020 – a 67-62 Bobcat victory. Darian White led MSU with 19 points and six rebounds.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Bobcats held the nation’s second longest home court win streak (31) before it was snapped by Portland State on Jan. 11, 2018. Since losing to San Diego on Nov. 24, 2015, MSU has gone 56-12 (82.4.%) in The Brick.

THE STREAK: With its win over North Dakota on Dec. 6, the Bobcats ran its consecutive winning streak to a school-record 18 games. Montana State started the streak last season on Jan. 11, 2020 with a 73-62 victory at Portland State. MSU closed out the 2019-20 season with a 76-71 win over Northern Arizona in semifinal action at the Big Sky Tournament on March 11 in Boise, Idaho. The season was halted the next day due to COVID-19. MSU’s 18-game win streak was snapped at BYU on Dec. 10 in Provo. The streak was the third longest in the nation at the time, behind only Oregon (24) and Princeton (22).

PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Montana State sophomore Darian White, who broke onto the women’s basketball scene last winter, has been named to the preseason all-Big Sky Conference team voted on by BSC head coaches and media members. White, a product of Boise, Idaho, was the 2020 Big Sky Freshman of the Year, after helping the Bobcats to a 25-6 overall mark, a dominating 19-1 league ledger and a Big Sky title.

In what was arguably one of the best inaugural campaigns in MSU history, White collected 394 points, 150 rebounds, 104 assists and 76 steals. She played and started in all 31 games, averaging 12.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game. White, who recorded 25 games in double-digit scoring, including the last ten games, notched a season-high 23 points in MSU’s win at Eastern Washington connecting on eight-of-15 from the field and six-of-six at the line. She finished 25th in the nation in steals and 31st in the country in steals per game. In MSU’s two victories at the Big Sky Tournament, White was averaging 19 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 assists per game, before the championship game was called due to COVID-19. Northern Arizona’s Khiarica Rasheed was tabbed the preseason MVP. Also named to the preseason all-conference squad were Gina Marxen, Idaho, Beyonce Bea, Idaho, Dora Goles, Idaho State and Alisha Davis, Northern Colorado.

A LITTLE BIT OF TORI:  Tori Martell, a product of Somerset, Wis., moved up the all-time Montana State three-point made chart last weekend, connecting on two triples at Utah Valley. Martell has 162 career 3-pointers, which ranks fifth all-time. Ahead of Martell on MSU’s all-time list are Katie Bussey (254), Hannah Caudill (231), Oliana Squires (184) and Amy Meckling (174). Martell’s career 35.5% shooting from beyond the arc ranks 10th all-time at Montana State.  Martell’s eight 3-pointers against North Dakota on Dec. 6, 2020 broke the MSU school-record of seven previously held by Amy Meckling (Jan. 2, 2000), Brandi Lewis (Feb. 13, 2003) and Hannah Caudill (Jan. 28, 2017). Martell’s total is tied for third most in the nation this season.

DARE TO BE:  Sophomore Darian White has picked up where she left off last season. The preseason All-Big Sky Conference selection leads the Bobcats and is third Big Sky averaging 17.0 points per game. She’s been over the 20+ point mark on three occasions, with a career-best 24 points in MSU’s win at Portland on Dec. 17. White, a graduate of Mountain View High School in Boise, Idaho, also leads the team in steals (20), assists (28) and free throws made (26). In addition, White is averaging a team-best 5.2 rebounds per game. She recorded a career-high 11 rebounds in Montana State’s win over Portland.

ALL JACKED UP:  Madison Jackson had her best game of the season at BYU on Dec. 10. The Parma, Idaho product tallied 11 points, her first double-digit output since notching a career-best 15 points at Eastern Washington last January. Against the Cougars, Jackson did most of her work at the free throw line connecting on a career-best nine-of-nine. For the season, she is averaging 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. She’s been sidelined the last three games. 

KUDOS TO KOLA:  Sophomore Kola Bade Bear has played and started in all six games to date. The 6-2 product of Billings Senior is averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest. Bad Bear had one of her best outings of the season at Brigham Young on Dec. 10. Against the Cougars, she posted a career-high 10 points, connecting on three field-goals and a four-of-four effort from the free throw line. Bad Bear pulled down a season-best six rebounds at BYU, as well. In MSU’s win at Portland on Dec. 17, Bad Bear matched her career-best with 10 points on four-of-six shooting. For the season, she has also connected on 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

EASY PEASY:  True-freshman Katelynn Limardo has started all six games for the Bobcats to date. The 6-2 product of Silver City, N.M. (a town where lawman Harvey Whitehall was the first to arrest Billy the Kid, known at the time under the alias Henry Antrim in 1875) is averaging 6.5 points per game. Limardo had her best game of the season at Utah Valley scoring a team-high 15 points. Against the Wolverines, she connected on 6-of-8 from the field and was three-of-five from long distance. Limardo also chipped in four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in the win. On the season, she’s averaging 4.2 rebounds per game and is shooting 78.6% from the free throw line. 

THE PRIDE OF ROSEMOUNT:  True freshman Taylor Janssen has played in all five games, including three starts. She is averaging 21.4 minutes per contest. The Rosemount, Minn., native is averaging 5.7 points per game, which is sixth best on the squad. Janssen posted a season-high 10 points in MSU’s season-opening victory over North Dakota. Against the Fighting Hawks, Janssen recorded four baskets, including two from long distance. She also added five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

LAUDING LEXI:   Lexi Deden has played in all six games.  The 6-1 forward from Missoula is averaging 5.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest. Deden has recorded a season-high nine points on two occasions, including the season-opening victory over North Dakota and in MSU’s win over Utah Valley, last Saturday. Against UVU, she connected on three-of-six from the field. Deden also hit one triple and was two-of-two at the line. In addition, she pulled down three rebounds and had a season-high four steals.  On the year, she is shooting 48.1% from the field. The Deden name is familiar in Montana basketball circles. Deden’s mother Dawn (Silliker) Deden played for the Montana from 1984-88. At UM, she was a 1,000-point scorer and was an all-Mountain West selection. In addition, Lexi’s aunt and head coach at Sentinel High School, Karen Deden, was a standout at Washington and is in the Husky Hall of Fame.

SKYE’S THE LIMIT:  Skye Lindsay, who sat out last season after transferring from Pepperdine, has seen action in four games this season and is averaging 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The Orem, Utah product posted a season-best 11 points in MSU’s win at Portland. In MSU’s game against South Dakota State, Lindsay recorded eight points and five rebounds.

DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS:  Leia Beattie, a product of Midland, Texas, posted a season-best 12 points against South Dakota State on Dec. 21, shooting 5-of-8 with two 3-pointers. Beattie also has a familiar Montana basketball pedigree. Her mother, Kelly (Pilcher) Beattie was a two-time All-Big Sky selection for the Lady Griz and is sixth all-time in assists at UM. In addition, her 15 assists vs. Boise State and No. Arizona still rank first in single-game history. Beattie’s aunt and coach at MCA, Carla (Beattie) Cunneen, is a former Lady Griz who was the 1996 Big Sky Sixth Player of the Year.


*Individually, Tori Martell’s eight 3-pointers against North Dakota on Dec. 6, 2020 broke the MSU school-record of seven previously held by Amy Meckling (Jan. 2, 2000), Brandi Lewis (Feb. 13, 2003) and Hannah Caudill (Jan. 28, 2017).

*Tori Martell’s eight 3-pointers against North Dakota is tied for third most in the nation this season. Martell’s eight triples matched the eight by Tori Williams, Colorado State, Taylor Mikesell, Oregon, Katie Benzan, Maryland, Hanna Hall, Buffalo, Priscilla Williams, Syracuse, and Kyra Spiwak, Providence. Sam Lewis of Fairfield connected on a nation-best 11 triples against Siena on Dec. 12, 2020.

*Montana State leads the Big Sky Conference in steals per game (11.7), turnover margin (5.00), and turnovers forced (18.17).

*Both Montana State’s Tori Martell and Darian White lead the Big Sky Conference in two statistical categories, apiece. Martell leads the league in three-pointers per game (3.33) and three-point field goals made (20). The two outputs rank 15th and 37th in the nation at the NCAA Division I level, respectively. White leads the Big Sky in stea1s per game (3.33) and steals (20). Those numbers rank 15th and 43rd in the nation.

*Montana State associate head coach Sunny Smallwood is one of the longest tenured assistants at the NCAA Division I level. Smallwood began her career at Washington State in 1990 and has gone on to serve at Washington, Cal, Nebraska, Boise State and Arizona. Before starting her collegiate career, she spent 7 years as head coach at Boise High School.

*Montana State assistant coach Blaire Braxton is in her first season on the bench under the tutelage of Head Coach Tricia Binford. Braxton finished her time in the Blue and Gold last season. Her accolades include most games played (125), and along with Madeline Smith and Oliana Squires, was a part of the winningest class in school history as the threesome accounted for 82 victories.

*The Bobcats have claimed three Big Sky regular season titles in the last five years. MSU won regular season championships in 2016, 2017, and 2020.

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