Idaho State couldn’t complete its Treasure State sweep Saturday, falling 67-59 to Big Sky Conference leader Montana State in Bozeman.
The loss came two days after the Bengals won at Montana for the first time since 2012.
It was evident from the start Saturday that things were going to be tough for Idaho State (8-10, 4-5 Big Sky Conference). The Bengals trailed 13-10 after a first quarter in which they turned the ball over five times.
Montana State’s aggressive man-to-man defense continued to give Idaho State fits, with the Bengals struggling to get open shots and never looking in rhythm.
The Bobcats (12-6, 8-1) led 29-24 at halftime. Idaho State made 1 of 10 3-pointers in the first half.
The game started to open up offensively in the second half.
Montana State started the third quarter on a 6-0 run to push the lead into double digits for the first time, but Idaho State responded with an 8-0 run to cut it back to three points, 35-32.
The Bengals had a chance to go into the fourth quarter down five, but MSU point guard Oliana Squires, a preseason all-conference selection, made a running buzzer-beater with one foot on the 3-point line to make the score 41-34 heading into the final period.
If that shot demoralized the Bengals, they didn’t show it, at least on offense. ISU scored 25 points in the fourth quarter, more than the Bengals put up in the first half.
But Montana State had an answer for every big shot.
ISU cut the lead to five points once, when Dora Goles fed Tomekia Whitman on a backdoor cut for a layup to make it 54-49 with four minutes, 53 seconds left.
The Bengals forced a turnover and had a chance to whittle the lead down even further, but a bad pass on a 3-on-1 fast break gave the ball back to Montana State, and Madeline Smith made a short jumper off a post-up to halt ISU’s run.
That was the closest the Bengals got, but they continued to hang around until the final two minutes.
Montana State put the dagger in on a late possession by bleeding down the entire shot clock before getting the offensive rebound on a missed 3. Needing to play strong defense for the entirety of the shot clock again, Idaho State almost did, but Montana Oltrogge fouled Smith off the ball with MSU’s offense going nowhere.
Smith made both, and a layup by Fallyn Freije pushed the lead into double digits again with 1:18 left.
Bourne led ISU with 15 points. Goles added 13, and Whitman had 12 on 6 of 7 shooting.
Idaho State narrowly outshot the Bobcats, 43.6% to 43.3%, but the Bengals had 17 turnovers to MSU’s 12 and were outrebounded 38-31.
ISU also had just seven bench points to MSU’s 21.
Idaho State hits the halfway mark in its Big Sky schedule when the Bengals host Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. Thursday in Reed Gym.
MONTANA STATE 67, IDAHO STATE 59
Idaho State 10 14 10 25 — 59
Montana State 13 16 12 26 — 67
Idaho State — Whitman 12, Goles 13, Bourne 15, Smith 4, Konate 8, Boswell 3, Moore 2, Oltrogge 2.
Montana State — White 12, Martell 2, Kuderer 8, Smith 9, Freije 15, Squires 13, Braxton 8.