Posted: Jan 19, 2013 6:24 PM by Q2 Sports
MISSOULA - Montana State seniors Latisha Adams and Rachel Semansky made the most of their final regular-season game in Dahlberg Arena as the duo hit crucial buckets down the stretch to lift the Bobcats to a 58-49 win over Montana, Saturday afternoon in front of 4,128 Lady Griz faithful.
For Semansky and Adams, the victory marked the third in four tries on their rival's floor.
"We love this environment, and once we settled in, I thought our defense really dictated the game," Semansky said. "We have great team chemistry and really played for each other."
Montana State (13-4, 7-1) fought back from an early seven-point deficit in the opening half to take a 30-25 lead at intermission as Adams nailed a 10-foot floater at the buzzer.
"We only shot 30 percent in the first half," said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. "Our defense has been our bread and butter. We were able to get to the line and knock down some shots."
Montana (11-5, 5-2) pulled to within 34-32 following a Kenzie De Boer layup at the 15:03 mark of the second stanza, before the Bobcats rattled off a 13-1 run capped by a Lexi Dawkins jumper. The MSU streak was also highlighted by a deep 3-pointer via Adams from the right baseline.
"Tish has really been sensational for us, especially in conference play," Binford said. "She has really embraced the senior leadership role and she just lets the game come to her."
The Lady Griz made one more run at the Bobcats as UM scored 11 unanswered points to pull to within 47-44 on a Katie Baker bucket. Again, Adams had the answer for Montana State connecting on an eight-foot shot off the glass to end a Bobcat scoring drought that lasted four-minutes, 17-seconds.
"I thought we did a nice job keeping our composure when Montana made their run," Binford said. "And, when it came crunch time, Tish hit a clutch basket."
A pair of Baker free throw tosses kept UM within three-points with 4:28 remaining, before Semansky pushed the margin to 51-46 with 3:25 left. Montana State received a huge gift as Emily Allen nailed a wide-open triple from the left wing to give the Bobcats an eight-point advantage at the 2:03 mark. The 3-pointer was Allen's first of the season.
De Boer responded with a trey of her own to whittle the Bobcat lead to five-points with 1:41 remaining, but Adams and freshman Lindsay Stockton each converted two charity tosses, apiece, down the stretch to secure the win.
"We talk about it being a team effort all the time," Binford said. "Kalli (Durham) hits free throws in the first half, Jackie Elliott got us two good offensive boards, Rechel Carter played great defense and got us a big rebound, and you can go right down the bench."
Adams finished the game with a team-high 13 points, while Durham also hit double-digits with 12 points, including a five-of-seven effort from the line.
MSU ended the contest shooting 33 percent from the floor, while holding Montana to 30 percent and forcing an uncharacteristic 19 Lady Griz turnovers.
UM held a slim three-rebound advantage under the glass. Semansky posted a team-best nine rebounds, while Ashley Brumwell pulled down seven.
Each team went to the line 18 times with the Bobcats outscoring the Lady Griz 15-8 from the stripe.
The win on the Dahlberg hardwood gives MSU an 8-1 road record this season, and more importantly, gives the Bobcats sole possession atop the Big Sky Conference standings.
"We love playing on the road," Brumwell said. "We get along so well that we just play for each other no matter what the environment might be like."
Montana was paced in the loss by Baker with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Montana State will play at Weber State next Thursday night in Ogden, Utah.