WHO: Montana State at Eastern Washington
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 @ 7 p.m. (MT)
WHERE: Cheney, Wash. - Reese Court (6,000)
RECORDS: MSU- 11-10, 6-5, E. Wash. - 5-14, 4-6
SERIES: Montana State 44-43
LAST MTG: Jan. 19, 2019 - EWU 89, @MSU 87 (OT)
RADIO: My 103.5 KZMY FM with Jason Alvine on play-by-play
VIDEO: Pluto TV 234 or WatchBigSky.com
NEXT UP: The Bobcat women’s basketball team will travel to the Palouse this weekend for a pair of Big Sky Conference games. Montana State will face Eastern Washington in Cheney on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. (MT). MSU will close out the road trip at Idaho on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. in Moscow. The Bobcats lost to both schools earlier this season in Worthington Arena.
ON A SERIES NOTE: Montana State enters Thursday’s contest with a slim 44-43 advantage in its all-time series with Eastern Washington after the Eagles knocked off the Bobcats 89-87 in overtime on Jan. 19. The series started during the 1976-77 season. In recent times, MSU has claimed four of the last five meetings between the two schools. The Bobcats defeated the Eagles 77-74 last season, and downed EWU on three occasions in 2017, including a 72-61 win at the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Montana State had five players average in double-figures in its last two games. Hitting double-digits were Oliana Squires 12.5, Blaire Braxton 11, Claire Lundberg 11, Madeline Smith 11, and Halle Wright 10.
THAT WAS THE GAME THAT WAS:
Northern Colorado’s Savannah Smith scored a career-high 37 points to guide the Bears to an 84-73 victory over Montana State on Monday night in Shroyer Gym.
Smith, a 5-6 senior from Fort Collins, Colo., connected on 14-of-23 from the field, six-of-13 from long distance and three-of-three from the line to match a Northern Colorado (14-6, 9-2) scoring record.
Montana State (11-10, 6-5) found itself down early as the Bears closed out the first quarter on an 11-0 run. Smith recorded 10 points in the opening frame as the UNC shot 57.9 percent from the field.
The Bobcats chipped the lead down to 37-30 at 2:19 mark of the second period on a Tori Martell free throw, but the Bears finished out the half with four unanswered points to hold an 11-point cushion at intermission.
MSU whittled the lead down to six points in the early moments of the third quarter on a Claire Lundberg free throw. Again, Northern Colorado responded rattling off a 10-2 run to take a 51-37 advantage at the 6:26 mark on a Smith jumper.
UNC built its largest margin at 82-63 in the fourth quarter, before MSU closed out the contest on a 10-2 run.
Also hitting double-figures for UNC were Alexis Chapman 15, Micayla Isenbart 12 and Krystal Leger-Walker 10. The Bears shot 49.3 percent from the field and converted 11-of-27 from long distance.
Montana State, which gave up 14 offensive boards and committed 17 turnovers, found its touch in the second half shooting 44 percent from the floor, while going to the line 20 times.
“We had some mistakes pile up,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “When you have mistakes, great teams are going to find a way to exploit them, and, we couldn’t overcome that.”
The Bobcats were led in scoring by Lundberg with 13 points, while Halle Wright and Madeline Smith added 11 points, apiece. Freshman Gabby Mocchi posted a season-high nine points, all coming from beyond the three-point line. Blaire Braxton also added nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
MORE ON THE EAGLES: Since defeating the Bobcats 89-87 in overtime on Jan. 19, Eastern Washington had lost three straight - Portland State, Sacramento State and Southern Utah. The Eagles ended its three-game skid with a 64-62 win over Northern Arizona last Saturday in Flagstaff. Violet Kapri Morrow paced EWU in the victory with a game-high 21 points, while Grace Kirscher and Jessica McDowell-White added 13 and 10 points, respectively. The Eagles were led under the glass by Uriah Howard and Amira Chandler with seven rebounds, apiece. In their first meeting with the Bobcats, Morrow recorded 37 points, while Alissa Sealby and Leya DePriest added 18 and 12, respectively. The Bobcats were led by Claire Lundberg with 19 points, while Martha Kuderer 15, Oliana Squires 13, Halle Wright 13, and Tori Martell 12, also hit double-digits. On the season, Eastern Washington is led by Morrow, who averages 18.7 points and Grace Kirscher at 10.5 ppg.
PRESEASON WNIT: MSU played in the preseason WNIT for the first time in its history. The Cats fell at #19 Marquette 100-52 in Milwaukee on Nov. 9. MSU rebounded to win its consolation pod defeating Delaware 69-60 and Texas State 67-59. Marquette went on to defeat Northern Iowa 102-61, before falling to Miami 63-55 in the semifinals. Iowa State captured the WNIT title with a 75-52 win over Miami.
LAUDING LUNDBERG: Seton Hall transfer Claire Lundberg has made an immediate impact on the court. The Anoka High School product is sixth in the Big Sky averaging 17.0 points per contest. In addition, she is third in free throw percentage (86.8), 3-point field-goal percentage (39.5), points (356) and field-goals made (123), fourth in 3-point field-goals made (51) and 3-point field-goals per game (2.43), fifth in field-goals attempted (284) and field-goal percentage (43.3) and 3-point field-goals attempted (129). Lundberg opened the season hitting her first 22 attempts from the charity stripe, just three shy to the record held by Rebecca Mercer. On the season, Lundberg has been in double-digit scoring in 18 of 21 games, including seven games with 20 points or more. She posted a season-high 28 points in MSU’s win over Delaware on Nov. 16. Lundberg was Big Sky Player of the Week for Nov. 20 after averaging 27 points and six rebounds as MSU knocked-off Delaware and Texas State in WNIT action. The native of Andover, Minn., threw a perfect game against Texas State on Nov. 17 hitting eight-of-eight from the field, four-of-four from long distance and six-of-six from the free throw line. In Montana State’s win over Montana last Saturday, Lundberg recorded nine points, hauled down seven rebounds. She registered 13 points against Northern Colorado.
HOLY MOLY, OLI: Oliana Squires is averaging 10.8 points per game. The Colorado Springs, Colo., product notched a season and career-high 21 points in MSU’s win over Northern Arizona on Dec. 31. In the season-opener against No. 19-ranked Marquette, Squires nailed four 3-pointers. She has been in double-digit scoring in 13 of MSU’s 21 games. Squires nearly pulled off a triple double at Sacramento State on Jan.5 with 13 points, a career-high ten rebounds and seven assists. In Montana State’s win over Montana last Saturday, she had an outstanding performance with a game-high 20 points on eight-of-16 from the field, including a four-of-eight from long distance. Squires also dished out a game-high eight assists to go along with five rebounds and a steal.
KUDERER’S KUDOS: Martha Kuderer, who sat out last season after transferring from Seton Hall, is averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. She had her best Big Sky outing recording 19 points and six rebounds in MSU’s win at Sacramento State. Her best weekend of the season came against Delaware and Texas State in the WNIT when she averaged 19 points and 7.5 rebounds. Kuderer had a season-high 21 points against Texas State. On the season, she has been in double-digit scoring on nine occasions. She sat out the last two games under concussion protocol.
BARDS OF THE BLOCK: Juniors Madeline Smith and Blaire Braxton have manned the blocks for the Bobcats the past three seasons. The duo has swapped starting time at the five and each average 19.5 minutes or more per contest. Braxton, a product of Highlands Ranch, Colo., is first on the team hauling down 5.9 rebounds per game, while Smith, from Snohomish, Wash., is third averaging 4.9 per contest. Braxton recorded a career-high 18 points in MSU’s loss to Idaho on Jan. 10. For the game, she connected on seven-of-11 from the field and was four-of-six from the line. She also pulled down a team-best eight rebounds and had a block. Smith registered a season-high 16 points against Northern Colorado knocking down seven-of-10 attempts to go along with seven rebounds. Smith has been in double-figure scoring on seven occasions, while Braxton has five double-digit games. On the season, the duo has combined to shoot an impressive 58 percent (119-204) from the floor. The tandem had a solid effort in MSU’s win over rival Montana combining for 24 points, before putting 20 up against No. Colorado.
THE WRIGHT STUFF: Freshman Halle Wright received her first start against TCU on Dec. 8. The Aumsville, Ore., product missed the first three games with a leg injury, but has started 14 straight since coming back. She had one of her best games of the season against Eastern Washington seeing 36 minutes of action and recording 13 points, including nine points in the overtime period. Wright also added a season-high eight assists and seven rebounds. She is averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in Big Sky play. Wright posted 11 points, five assists and two rebounds against No. Colorado on Monday.
TORI, TORI, TORI: Tori Martell has connected on 28 three-pointers this season. The Somerset, Wis., native connected on 36 three-pointers, including 19 in the last eight games of the season, last winter. She is currently averaging 6.9 points per game in Big Sky play. Martell found her stroke from outside in Montana State’s win at Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 scoring a career-high 19 points, which included a 5-of-8 performance from beyond the three-point line. Against Northern Colorado on Monday, Martell recorded five points, all from the FT line.
FEET TO THE FIRE: Freshman Gabby Mocchi has played in all 21 games and is averaging 3.5 ppg in Big Sky play. She tallied a career-high against Northern Colorado on Monday night scoring nine points, all from long distance. Mocchi also pulled down five boards against the Bears. Freshman Kamden Hilborn has dished out 26 assists, while adding twelve steals. The Helena High product is averaging 11.8 minutes per game.
THROWING SHAIDE: Madisyn Shaide had a career night against then No. 19 Marquette posting six points on two 3-pointers.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Cats saw the nation’s second longest home court win streak snapped against Portland State on Jan. 11, 2018. The loss broke MSU’s 31-game home streak. MSU has won 41 of its last 46 games in The Brick. The Bobcats are averaging 2,309 fans per game, which includes its sold out crowd of 6,772 against Carroll College on Nov. 6. MSU is ranked 52nd in the nation in attendance.
Sports Information Director
Montana State University