The Idaho women’s basketball team failed to complete a Montana sweep in an 80-64 loss to Montana State Saturday in Bozeman.
The last time the Vandals beat both Montana and Montana State was 1985. The Bobcats (10-4, 3-1) proved to be a more formidable opponent for Idaho.
Idaho’s (6-8, 1-2) offense spelled trouble early when the Vandals were outscored 5-0 in the opening minutes. Idaho came back within one thanks to a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Mikayla Ferenz. The one point deficit would be the smallest of the game.
A team effort by the Bobcats extended the lead. Guard Peyton Ferris led the charge, scoring 12 points in the first quarter.
“Our start to the first quarter killed us. Absolutely killed us. We had great looks early just did not knock them down. I think it affected our defense a little bit. Ferris really hurt us in the first quarter. She is a great player and we did not do a very good job on her,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said in a news release.
Coming into the second quarter, Montana State led 23-8.
The Vandals began to slow down the game on the defensive end, but could not connect on their own shots. The Bobcats outscored the Vandals 7-0 near the end of the half, before sophomore guard Taylor Pierce snapped the drought with a short jump shot in the final seconds.
At the half, Montana State led 36-18.
“After halftime, we talked about relaxing and not trying to do too much. We had some players taking some bad shots, trying to do too much themselves,” Newlee said. “I thought we did a much better job in the second half of passing the ball around.”
The halftime adjustments did help in shooting for Idaho, but Montana State refused to slow down and kept their sizeable lead. Ferris, who ended her day going 9-14 from the field and 3-4 from the perimeter, was called for her fourth personal foul. She headed to the bench to prevent from fouling out.
Junior post Geraldine McCorkell began a consistent scoring streak, scoring 10 points in the third quarter. However, the Bobcats led 53-37 at the break.
The fourth quarter was not kind to Idaho. The Bobcats led by 23 midway through, before Idaho closed the gap slightly before the final buzzer.
Ferenz led in points for the Vandals with 19. The team made 22 percent of its three point shots, and went 33 percent from the field.
Idaho went 5-33 on offensive and defensive rebounds, compared to Montana going 14-40.
“Offensive rebounds hurt us a lot. We knew that was going to happen if we did not block out and keep them off the glass. Unfortunately, it has been a common theme this year for us. We lost a couple of really good rebounders from last year’s team and we have not been able to fill that role,” Newlee said.
Idaho returns to Moscow for its next match up. The Vandals will face Weber State 6 p.m. Jan. 12 in Cowan Spectrum.
Brandon Hill can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill