BOZEMAN, Mont. – It took Montana State a quarter to get going, but once it found an offensive rhythm the Bobcats were able to parlay a six-point opening frame lead into a 16-point advantage at intermission en route to an 81-52 victory over Weber State on Thursday night in Worthington Arena.
“We weren’t super sharp in the first half offensively,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford, “We were kind of trading baskets and we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. I thought we cut that down a little bit in the second half. We were in really good positioning off-ball to get into some of those possessions and that was a huge emphasis for us because we do want to get out and run and play off of our defense and we were able to do that.”
Montana State (11-6, 7-1) shot 33.3 percent from the field in the first period, before using the 3-point line in the second stanza connecting on 4-of-7 from long distance. Tori Martell converted all three of her attempts from beyond the arc to stretch the Bobcat lead.
MSU played its best quarter coming out of halftime outscoring Weber State (3-14, 1-7) by eleven behind a strong effort from senior Martha Kuderer who poured in six points. As a team, the Bobcats shot 57.1 percent from the field and connected on 8-of-12 from the free throw line to extend its advantage to 62-35 heading into the final quarter.
The Bobcats took its largest lead of the contest at 79-46 following a pair of Gabby Mocchi free throws with 1:22 remaining.
“We got better tonight defensively and that’s where we needed to turn the page,” Binford said. “We had a lot more deflections than we did at Eastern Washington and I thought we came out a lot more attack-minded on the defensive end and I thought that set the tone for us right from the start.”
Martell led four Bobcats in double-figures with 16 points, while Kuderer added 13, Blaire Braxton 12 and Fallyn Freije 11. Martell finished with four three-pointers, while Kuderer went six-of-nine from the field. Braxton added a spark off the bench with a season-best 12 points connecting on three-of-four from the field and six-of-six at the charity stripe.
MSU finished shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 74.1 percent (20-27) at the line. The Bobcats also out-rebounded WSU 43-31. Kuderer had eight rebounds to lead MSU, while Freije and Braxton added seven boards apiece.
The Bobcats forced 23 Weber State turnovers, while committing just 13 miscues.
Liz Graves had 17 points and five rebounds to lead Weber.
The Bobcats will host Idaho State on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Worthington Arena.