POCATELLO — Once the Montana State Bobcats got going, there was no stopping them, as the visitors rolled to a 74-55 win over Idaho State at Reed Gym on Thursday night.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for ISU, which was down 25 points at multiple times in the second half. A late 8-2 run to close the game prevented it from being the Bengals’ biggest loss of the season. Instead, it merely matched ISU’s 85-66 defeat at Duke on Nov. 21.
“We really played out of character tonight, for us,” ISU head coach Seton Sobolewski said. “Defensively, we weren’t very good. Offensively, we had no chemistry. When we did get good shots, we missed them. We missed layups, we missed open outside shots. ... I think a big part of what was going on tonight was, we wanted to win really bad, so we played a little bit out of character.”
Montana State, the Big Sky Conference’s top team, came to play early. Idaho State (12-11, 8-6 Big Sky) scored first when an Ellie Smith block led to a Diaba Konate layup, but the Bobcats responded with a 10-0 run and led 22-14 after the first quarter.
With a comfortable margin established, Montana State (16-6, 12-1 Big Sky) spent the rest of the competitive portion of the game ably fending off any attempt at an Idaho State run.
Callie Bourne, who led all scorers with 17 points — with her parents in attendance from Australia — made a 3-pointer and a layup for a mini run midway through the second quarter, but Montana State answered with a Kola Bad Bear 3 and a Madeline Smith layup to keep the lead where it was.
Idaho State trailed 38-23 at halftime, its largest halftime deficit of the season.
The Bengals came out of the break on a 7-2 run, capped by another Bourne 3, but Darian White and Martha Kuderer scored inside for the Bobcats.
With ISU still hanging around in the middle of the third, Montana State shifted into top gear, going on a 12-0 run across two minutes, 47 seconds of game time that left the Bobcats with a 60-35 lead.
“After the first half, (Montana State) really built a lot of confidence and momentum,” Sobolewski said. “A good team like that, an experienced team like that can sense when blood’s in the water. ... It snowballed from there.”
Dora Goles scored 11 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter for ISU, with her layup with under a minute left locking in the final score and cutting the lead under 20 for the first time since MSU’s third-quarter run.
For the game, Idaho State forced 20 turnovers and had more field-goal attempts than Montana State, but shot 36.5% to the Bobcats’ 47.3%.
ISU also faced a big deficit at the free-throw line, shooting three free throws to Montana State’s 20.
Montana State didn’t have a player score over 13 points, but six Bobcats made it into double figures — Smith, White, Kuderer, Fallyn Freije, Tori Martell and Blaire Braxton.
“Tonight, we didn’t bring our brains to the gym,” Sobolewski said. “We weren’t thinking, we weren’t executing a lot of simple stuff.”
Up next: Idaho State hosts Montana at Reed Gym on Saturday at 2 p.m.
MONTANA STATE 74, IDAHO STATE 55
Montana State 22 16 22 14 — 74
Idaho State 14 9 14 18 — 55
Montana State — White 12, Kuderer 13, Smith 10, Freije 11, Bad Bear 5, Martell 13, Braxton 10.
Idaho State — Goles 14, Bourne 17, Smith 4, Konate 10, Oltrogge 6, Vicente 2, Moore 2.