NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Montana State held an 11-point lead at the 7:50 mark of the third quarter following an Oliana Squires’ 3-pointer. However, Stephen F. Austin responded with a 20-8 run to take a one-point advantage early in the fourth period en route to a 60-53 victory over the Bobcats on Thursday morning.
Montana State (4-3) looked in control in the first half, breaking away from 18-all with nine straight points to hold a 27-18 cushion heading into intermission. The Bobcats out-rebounded Stephen F. Austin (6-2) in the first 20-minutes, and held the Lumberjacks to just four offensive boards. MSU sent SFA to the line on three occasions, as well.
“We told the team before the game this was going to be about winning at the foul line and winning on the glass,” said MSU coach Tricia Binford.
SFA turned the tables in the second half outscoring the Bobcats 20-11 in the third frame. MSU received a pair of Blaire Braxton free throws to give the Bobcats a six-point margin at the 2:24 mark, but the Lumberjacks closed out the quarter with six unanswered points.
Tied at 48 in the final period, SFA used back-to-back buckets from freshman Heaven Hamling with 4:49 left to create the cushion it needed to secure the win. The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Bobcats 20-9 in the second half and connected on 15 of 21 at the line, while the Bobcats went just 2 for 2.
“Stephen F. Austin came out in the second and really attacked us on the glass and foul line,” Binford commented. “They dominated those two areas in the second and we weren’t able to recover.”
MSU also got into foul trouble as leading scorer Claire Lundberg picked up her fifth personal with 7:54 remaining in the contest. Lundberg left with a game-high 18 points.
“We got in to four trouble and lost our composure,” Binford said. “We need to have more discipline with our defensive mistakes and reaches, and more steadiness on the offensive end over a complete game.”
Also reaching double-figures for MSU was Squires with 13 points, including three triples. MSU was led under the glass by Martha Kuderer with nine rebounds.
For the game, both teams shot 36.7 percent from the field and each had 17 turnovers. The Lumberjacks out-rebounded MSU 35-28.
SFA was paced by Imani Johnson with 18 points and ten rebounds.
“We need to respond to this on Saturday,” Binford said. “TCU is another team that will be extremely challenging. We need to continue to find our identity and correct some of these internal mistakes that are piling-up.”
Montana State will travel to Forth Worth, Texas, on Saturday to face TCU at 12 p.m. Mountain time.