Game Recap

Bobcat women earn non-conference win at Utah Valley


The Montana State women’s basketball team had to call an audible earlier this week when the Big Sky Conference opening weekend for the reigning league champions was abruptly cancelled.

And while the torrid pace for MSU’s standout backcourt slowed for a game and the Bobcats did not shoot the ball well in Orem, Utah Saturday afternoon, Montana State still earned a hard-fought 66-63 win over Utah Valley.

The defense for MSU’s 2019-20 title was set to begin on Thursday with the first of two games at Southern Utah. Instead, Montana State will have to wait until next week to open up league play at home against Northern Colorado.

Instead of making the trip to Cedar City, the Bobcats instead pivoted, going to Orem to take on a Wolverines’ team that was originally supposed to play at Montana State on December 12.

“We reached out to Utah Valley after our games at Southern Utah were canceled,” MSU head coach Tricia Binford said in a press release on January 1. “At that time, they couldn’t play because they were already scheduled. When their game got canceled yesterday, they reached out to Sunny (Smallwood) last night and we were able to work it out.

“Coach Golden got the flights worked out and our testing is good. It’s pretty remarkable how fast we were able to get all the moving parts worked out. We would like to thank Utah Valley’s coaches and administrators, along with our people, for working so quickly and efficiently.”

Box Score

During Montana State’s 2-3 non-conference start leading up to Saturday’s game, senior guard Tori Martell shot the 3-point shot as well as anyone in the country while sophomore point guard Darian White looked like one of the best floor generals in the West.

Montana State senior guard Tori Martell (12) shoots a three point shot vs North Dakota/by Brooks Nuanez

Martell nailed 18 3-pointers (3.6 per game, 13th in the nation) and shot the triple at a 51.4 percent rate. White, last season’s Big Sky Freshman of the Year, led all Big Sky players in scoring during the non-conference (19.4 points per game) while also ranking in the top 50 nationally in total steals and total assists.

On Saturday in Orem, Martell finished just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc and 2-of-11 overall on the way to six points. White looked less energetic than any game last month, finishing 1-of-9 from the floor for five points. She did have five of MSU’s 21 assists on an afternoon MSU shot 39 percent from the floor, including 10-fo-28 (35.7 percent) from beyond the arc.

While MSU’s two primary scorers totaled 24 points less than their cumulative per-game average, true freshman K.J. Limardo and seldom-used junior Gabby Mocchi picked up the slack.

Limardo, a 6-foot-2 wing from Silver City, New Mexico who has started all six games so far for MSU this season, scored a career-high 15 points. She finished 6-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.

Mocchi, a 6-foot-1 forward from Champlin, Minnesota who played 16.8 minutes per game as a true freshman but just 3.8 minutes per contest last season, also finished with a career high, scoring 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

A total of nine Bobcats scored, including true freshman forward Lexi Deden matching her career high with nine points in 13 minutes.

Utah Valley center Josie Williams led all scorers with 17 points and to go with a game-high eight rebounds but UVU lost for the first time in three games this season.

Montana State is now 3-3 and its 17-game winning streak against Big Sky competition remains in tact entering Thursday’s conference opener against Northern Colorado. The Bears blew a 19-point third quarter lead in a 60-56 loss to Montana in Greeley, Colorado on Thursday night.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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