Courtesy: Montana State Sports Information
Even Tricia Binford admits with a smile that it didn't look good for her team for a while.
Trailing Montana 60-51 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation, Montana State launched a comeback for the ages. Hannah Caudill nailed a three-pointer with 2:20 left, then Peyton Ferris nailed just her 12th triple of the season, and as the clock ticked under one minute Delany Junkermier hit a short jumper, drew a foul, and sank the free throw to tie the game, which ended up in a 75-69 Bobcat win.
"We knew we would get their best effort," said Binford, MSU's 12th-year head coach. "I'm really proud of the comeback."
The come-from-behind effort that began with Caudill's three was capped 3:20 into extra time when Junkermier nailed a triple to give the Bobcats a 69-61 lead. That 18-1 run gave MSU one point short of what it would eventually take to win. Junkermier scored six points in the run, Ferris five, and Riley Nordgaard four.
"I got settled down in the overtime," Junkermier said. "I haven't been hitting outside shots, so I tried to do something different. I saw wide open lanes and decided to just take it (to the basket) every time. Eventually that opens up your outside shot."
Caudill finished the job by hitting four of her six free throws in the closing seconds. MSU led for nearly 30 of the 45 minutes, but never by more than eight. The Lady Griz nine-point lead was the game's biggest.
The Bobcats fought through an uneven first half to lead 30-27 at the intermission. Neither team creased 40% shooting in the first 20 minutes, the Cats connecting on 11 of 28 shots (39 percent) with Montana shooting 11-for-31 (35%). The teams combined to hit less than half their free throws (MSU 4-for-9, UM 3-for-6) in a sloppy first half. MSU turned the ball over nine times, the Lady Griz 10.
It took Montana nearly three minutes to score. Delaney Junkemeier's layup got MSU on the board, trailing 4-2, at 7:09. Peyton Ferris and Rily Nordgaard followed with baskets in quick succession to give MSU a lead it would hold for all but 50 seconds until halftime.
Junkermier finished with 13 points, Nordgaard 12 and Caudill 10. But the game's star was Peyton Ferris, who led everyone with 27 points and 12 rebounds, which matches her career best. She also blocked five shots, a career high, and registered three assists and two steals.
"Peyton really put us on her shoulders," Binford said, "especially when they made runs."
Montana stayed in the game by turning 16 offensive rebounds into 15 second chance points. The Grizzlies shot 69 percent in the fourth quarter to build their lead, but turned the ball over 18 times in the afternoon.
Montana State raised its record to 16-5 with the win, and remains among the Big Sky leaders with a 9-2 conference mark. Montana is 3-19 overall, 0-11 in the league. MSU hosts Northern Arizona on Thursday.