BOZEMAN — If a Big Sky Conference basketball team is going to suffer a tough loss, doing it on a Thursday is better than a Saturday.
A Saturday loss leaves a team, in most weeks, with four days to sit with that lingering bad taste. A Thursday loss provides a much quicker chance to bounce back.
The Montana State women took a strong hold that chance from the opening tip of Saturday’s game.
Darian White tied a season-high in MSU’s 80-60 Big Sky win over Northern Colorado (10-12, 3-8) on Saturday afternoon in Greeley, Colorado. The road victory came two days after the Bobcats (16-8, 9-3) suffered a 79-50 loss at Northern Arizona; their worst conference defeat in a decade.
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MSU is 6-1 overall and 3-0 in league play coming off a loss this season.
“I love our ability to bounce back,” MSU head coach Tricia Binford told 406mtsports.com over the phone. “We really shared the ball today, got great shots. I thought we had the balance of shooters. Darian was fantastic today.”
White finished with game highs in points (25), rebounds (eight) and assists (six). The senior point guard made 12 of 19 field goals and played strong defense throughout her 31 minutes. She also scored 25 on Dec. 31 at Eastern Washington, but she finished that game with fewer rebounds and assists.
“We really wanted to focus on her setting the tone for us, being aggressive, and she certainly did that,” Binford said.
put 'em in the Spin Zone™ #Implacable // @darian_white03 pic.twitter.com/MkQkPT52K1— Montana State WBB (@MSUBobcatsWBB) February 4, 2023
Darian dart ➡️ KJ three#Implacable // #GoCatsGo pic.twitter.com/M9Qh88S9WN— Montana State WBB (@MSUBobcatsWBB) February 4, 2023
The Cats never trailed in Saturday’s game and never looked particularly close to falling behind after draining 3-pointers on their first two possessions. They finished shooting 52.4% from the field, 43.8% (7 of 16) from 3 and perfect (7 of 7) from the free throw line while holding the Bears to 35.6% on field goals and 31.8% (7 of 22) on 3s.
Perhaps the most important stat was turnovers — MSU forced 15 while coughing up eight. At NAU, the Cats turned it over 23 times.
“When you’re hitting shots and they’re taking it out of the net, you get your defense set up a little bit better,” Binford said.
MSU also dished out 20 assists, twice as many as it did on Thursday.
MSU forward Kola Bad Bear, who went scoreless at NAU, finished with 14 points (5 of 9 from the field) and five rebounds. Katelynn Limardo had 12 points (4 of 9 on field goals and 3s) and a game-high four steals, while Lexi Deden added 10 points (5 of 8 from the field) and five boards.
Our vets are going to work 👷♀️#Implacable // @Kola_BadBear pic.twitter.com/mk8mjJY7xv— Montana State WBB (@MSUBobcatsWBB) February 4, 2023
“You want to turn the page, but you also want to learn from that page,” Binford said. “We were really reactive in the Thursday game and really settled. I thought we had more patience today, I thought we kept it simpler today and on the defensive end, we were just a lot more consistent across the board.”
The Cats, who are first in the Big Sky, return to Bozeman and will host last place Weber State (5-17, 1-9) on Thursday.
Mia Hughes enters transfer portal
Former MSU forward Mia Hughes has entered the transfer portal, she announced Friday.
“I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to build relationships with my teammates and have them by my side for the past 2 years, pushing me to become better every day,” Hughes wrote in a note she posted to Twitter, adding, “Thank you to the coaching staff for providing me with an opportunity to play in a Bobcat jersey and develop as a player.”
Excited for what’s next! pic.twitter.com/O44uOkxa8p— Mia Hughes (@miiahughes) February 3, 2023
Hughes will graduate from MSU in the spring and has three years of eligibility left. The Woodinville, Washington, native was able to graduate in two years because she entered college with many AP credits, according to Binford.
Hughes and guard Ava Ranson left the Bobcats after winter break, Binford said last month.
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