Courtesy: Montana State Sports Information
Montana State continued its hot-shooting hitting 49 percent from the field, including 16 3-pointers, while limiting Northern Arizona to 23 percent from the floor en route to a convincing 81-39 win over the Lumberjacks on Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena.
Montana State (8-5, 2-0) had five players in double-figures paced by Madeline Smith who came off the bench to record 16 points and 12 rebounds- her fourth double-double of the season.
MSU opened the contest on an 8-0 run and held a 21-8 advantage following the first frame. Sophomore Oliana Squires set the tone for the Bobcats with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers. Squires finished with 16 points, while adding a career-best six assists and three steals.
While the Bobcats shot 53 percent in the opening 10-minutes, it held Northern Arizona (3-10, 0-2) to 20 percent from the field. MSU built a 41-19 cushion at intermission.
"The players have done a nice job committing to the motion line-up," said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. "I thought we had great ball movement and tempo. They're doing a nice job playing off each other."
MSU posted its best shooting quarter in the final period as Binford emptied the bench with a line-up comprised mainly of freshmen connecting on eight-of-14 from the floor. Tori Martell recorded nine points on three-of-five from beyond the arc in the last ten-minutes, while Coral Gillette and Janie McRae also lit up the scoreboard.
Binford was also able to rest starting point-guard Hannah Caudill for the entire fourth quarter as under study Ashley Van Sickle picked-up a career-high nine points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
"We did a much better job finishing out the game," Binford said. "We had contributions from everyone, and on both ends of the court. We defended very well, and I thought Laura Pranger did a great job shutting down NAU's top offensive threat."
The Lumberjacks' Kenna McDavis and Olivia Lucero entered the game averaging 16.6 and 16.5 points, respectively. McDavis finished with eight points on two-of-19 from the field, while Lucero registered four points on two-of-11 from the floor. For the game, NAU shot 23.4 percent, including an icy 10 percent from beyond the arc.
Pranger finished with a career-high 12 points and six rebounds and senior Rebekah Hatchard notched her second straight double-digit game with 11 points, including three triples.
MSU moved its home court win streak to 31 consecutive victories, second only to national power UConn.
The Bobcats will play at Northern Colorado on Thursday night in Greeley. The Bears were the preseason pick by both the coaches and media to capture the Big Sky title.