n the Lady Bobcats and the Lady Griz happened this past Saturday at Worthington Arena. The arena was pulsating from the energy of 3,526 fans. The supportive atmosphere gave the Cats the will to rally in the fourth quarter and fend off a tenacious Griz offense to seal the victory.
The first half was a struggle for MSU as the Bobcats committed 12 turnovers and struggled in their attempts to get the ball inside. MSU also had a hard time containing McCalle Feller and Kayleigh Valley, Montana’s two most dominant players. Valley and Feller average 20.1 and 17.7 points per game, respectively. Valley is shooting 54 percent from the field this season and is hitting at an 83 percent clip from the line. In addition, she is second on the team averaging 7.2 rebounds per contest. Feller is Montana’s deep threat connecting on 54-of-139 three-point attempts. It didn’t seem likely after the end of the first half that the Lady Cats would be able to curtail Valley and Feller from running the boards, as Valley scored a total of nine points and Feller 12. To end the half, MSU junior Riley Nordgaard completed a jumping layup in the paint, putting Montana State at 25 to Montana’s 30.
The Cats entered the second half adjusting defensively, going toe to toe physically with the Griz. The aggressive play style payed off, as the Cats were able to corral Valley and Feller to single digit point totals in the second half.
Montana’s largest lead came near the end of the second period, but by the middle of the third period, this lead was mitigated by a strong offensive surge by the Cats. Junior guard Peyton Ferris and Nordgaard led with 16 and 11 total points, respectively. With some help from senior guard Lindsay Stockton and senior forward Alexa Dawkins, the Cats managed to tie the game about mid-way through the third period.
With 8:39 left to play, Bobcat Senior Forward Jasmine Hommes gave Montana State its first lead since the opening quarter connecting on a layup in the paint. Nordgaard would secure the lead that the Cats would maintain for the rest of the game with an old-fashioned three-point play with 4:03 remaining.
Following a free throw by Montana’s Feller at the 3:54 mark, MSU scored seven unanswered points capped by a Nordgaard layup on an assist from Stockton. Stockton went three-of-four at the line down the stretch that resulted in the 61-52 win for Montana State. Overall, the game was extremely close. In fact, the lead changed hands five times just within the closing stanza of the game, highlighting just how tight the play was. The Cats continue the home stretch with a game against Portland State on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.