Cats crushed by Utah in first round of NIT

Despite losing their NCAA tournament hopes when they fell to Idaho State in a stunning upset during the Big Sky Conference tournament, the Cats’ record was still good enough to earn them an invite to the Women’s NIT. However, the draw for the NIT turned out the same as the Big Sky tournament, and the Cats ended their season with a loss.

Facing off against a strong, big conference team in Utah on March 18, the Cats would need protection to advance past the Utes. Unfortunately for MSU, they were less than perfect. The Cats kept pace with the bigger school for a quarter, but after that they couldn’t keep up. After MSU tied the game at 18 apiece a minute into the second quarter, the Utes scored 12 straight and then went on another seven point run to push out to a 37-21 halftime lead.

Things only got worse in the second half for the Bobcats when Utah continued to pile the lead on, eventually pushing to a 95-61 victory. The Utes shot 50 percent from the field and over 48 percent from beyond the arc. Comparatively, the Bobcats only shot 31 percent and 30 from three, not nearly enough to keep pace with the bigger and deeper Utah squad. The Utes also manhandled the Cats in the paint, doubling their total. In other categories, the Cats hung with their opponents, winning the battle of the boards and scoring more from the free throw line, but it didn’t translate to the scoreboard.

Utah limited the Cats’ superstars, holding Big Sky MVP and graduating senior Jasmine Hommes to just 3-15 shooting for just 9 points. Junior and sixth-man Peyton Ferris led the Cats in scoring with 15 points. The contest marked the final game for a number of important Bobcat contributors: Hommes, Alexa Dawkins, Lindsay Stockton and Michelle Seitz.