This past week saw the women’s basketball team face off against Portland State and Sacramento State on Feb. 4 and Feb. 6, respectively. Although both contests ended in a Montana State victory, the wins weren’t easily obtained. On paper, Montana State highly outranks both teams in overall record and individual statistics (i.e. total rebounds, takeaways etc.). The Lady Cats boast an impressive Big Sky Conference record, having won 10 out of 11 contests, compared to Portland’s 1 out of 8 and Sacramento’s 4 out of 6. In theory, Montana State should have handled both teams with relative ease. That didn’t prove to be the case — neither Portland State or Sacramento went out without a fight.
For the entire first half against Portland State, the ball was primarily found on the Vikings’ defensive half. Montana State possessed the ball extremely well and shot 52 percent in the field. The Bobcats took their largest lead of the half at 39-19 on a layup by senior guard Lindsay Stockton at the 2:43 mark. MSU entered intermission with a 17 point advantage, outscoring Portland State 41 to 24. Senior forward Jasmine Hommes became the epitomite of “on fire.” She opened the first quarter connecting on eight-of-eight from the field and finished with 23 total points. The second half against Portland State saw the Cats’ team coordination begin to deteriorate, and their established lead jeopardized by careless possessions and poor shooting percentages. For the game, MSU shot 45 percent from the field, but were an icy 18 percent in the fourth quarter. The Cats’ once tight grip on the lead loosened, almost to the point of their lead dropping down into the single digits. Fortunately, the Bobcats were tenacious enough to win the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Vikings 47-37, and giving the Cats their much deserved victory.
Last Saturday, the Cats went head-to-head with Sacramento State for their second game of the week. The Hornets came out hungry for a win and would prove themselves a worthy adversary, letting their performance overshadow their 7-14 overall record. The women had to play without Stockton due to her sustaining a concussion from Thursday’s game against Portland. Despite losing a key playmaker, the Bobcats committed just 12 turnovers against Sacramento State’s frenetic full court press that featured wave-after-wave of substitutions. The Cats went into the locker room trailing only by two with the score 50-52, Sacremento in the lead. Montana accurately outshot the Hornets in the first, posting a solid 66 shooting percentage in the field compared to Sacramento State’s 33 percent. Regardless of their poor shooting percentage, the Hornets’ first half lead could be attributed to their aggressive board play, severely out-rebounding the Cats.
“Sacramento State beat us on the boards in the first half and that was one of the keys to the game for us,” MSU Head Coach Tricia Binford said. “We gave up 15 offensive boards and that’s giving them way too many second and third chances. We addressed that at halftime and did a much better job being the aggressor under the boards.” The battle of the boards became the Cats’ key focus for the rest of the game. The Cats managed to end the game with a slight rebounding advantage 45-43. This advantage gave the Cats more possession time, allowing for more shots that resulted in the 116-99 win.
Women’s basketball will travel to Northern Arizona on Thursday, Feb. 11.