Montana State Women Searching for Identity in South Dakota State, North Dakota | Montana State Bobcats

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BOZEMAN – The Montana State women’s basketball team is completing its longest road trip of the season early this year.

After losses to Gonzaga and UNLV last week, the Bobcats have played two games of their six-game away streak this month. Head coach Tricia Binford is hoping the team will start to find more of their identity in this early part of the season, but being on the road probably makes it more difficult.

The Bobcats face South Dakota State at Brookings at 5 p.m. Thursday and follow that up with a 1 p.m. game on Saturday in North Dakota.

“At the moment it is certainly not our opponent,” Binford said of his team’s recent training. “It’s about being our best version for every possession and not losing pressure.”

MSU (1-2) opened the season with a 69-60 victory over Carroll College, but even in this game the Bobcats sometimes struggled to force turnovers and conduct their offense the way they wanted.

This continued against the Bulldogs and Rebels. Even with the results scattered so far, there is optimism that the Bobcats will soon find their place.

“I think the games we had last week made us a better team,” said sophomore Lexi Deden, who averages 5.7 points per game. “I think now we know what to do. … I think we are developing our best potential right now.

The busy schedule on the road to begin with featured teams selected to finish near the top of their respective leagues. Gonzaga finished second in the West Coast Conference poll.

UNLV was third in Mountain West. SDSU finished second at the top.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, MSU will face North Texas (tied for third in the Conference USA poll) in California. And in December, the state of Montana welcomes BYU (chosen to win the WCC) at home.

“All the teams we play against are going to prepare us for the conference,” said senior Gabby Mocchi in the preseason. “They are all high caliber teams so we’re going to have to find ways to win and ways to be aggressive and ways to fight in games.”

Mocchi, from Champlin, Minnesota, added that she was particularly looking forward to this week’s road trip as she expects to have family at both games. She is also a close friend of senior UND goalie (0-2) Joli Daninger.

The Bobcats beat North Dakota by 12 at home last season, but they also lost 15 to SDSU.

This year’s revenge is part of a schedule designed specifically by Binford to challenge the team and improve their RPI so that they earn more respect during playoff deliberations. Those talks are a long way off, however, a point Binford made after losing to UNLV 80-42 on Saturday.

“I feel like RPI is not in the conversation with this team right now,” she said. “Right now we have bigger issues, to be honest. “

She said the team struggled to win by not rebounding well, keeping the ball out of the paint defensively and attacking and hitting the foul line on offense.

Keeping the ball off the post against the Jackrabbits will be especially crucial. SDSU (1-2) has shown it can be dangerous there before, racking up 40 points in the paint in a five-point road loss to Mississippi State on Nov. 12.

“They have a lot of action that will display a variety of people consistently throughout,” Binford said. “We just have to do a great job of trying to keep the ball out of the paint.”






Montana State forward Kola Bad Bear works against Weber State in a game on Feb.4.




Regardless of the results of MSU’s first road program, players intend to learn from their experiences playing with other talented teams.

“I think this exposure at the start is really good for us as we are always trying to find our identity offensively and defensively,” said junior Kola Bad Bear. “Playing all these teams that have a bench as deep as us, but playing at a higher level challenges us to play at their level as well. We’re trying to bring it back and practice it here as much as we can. “

Some of this has already started. Binford and Deden both said Tuesday’s training session was the most communicative the team has had all season.

Bad Bear said the team turned in on themselves in the losses to UNLV and Gonzaga, adding that fear of ruining everything or reacting to a mistake already made has kept the team from playing up to the standard. its standards.

“We thought of the past and stayed in the past,” Binford said. “We took a lot of lessons. I try to keep our minds in the present.

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