Both teams pushed the pace and each tried to establish their game plans for the night early in the 1st quarter. NAU with its usual full-court pressure and a mix of zone and man defenses. MSU did a good job early of not allowing NAU to get downhill by switching a lot of actions on the defensive end. It was Emily Rodabaugh and Leia Beattie who were the hot hands for both teams early.
FILM HIGHLIGHT BREAKDOWN: https://youtu.be/dXPXceMNHyo
MSU did a good job of making NAU settle for jump shots most of the first half. MSU’s hot 2nd quarter shooting and offensive rebounding were areas that stood out. MSU made 8 three-pointers in the first half when usually they make just shy of 7 per game. In fact, many of those offensive rebounds led to those three-pointers. This allowed MSU to go to half leading 47-39.
The second half started with a flurry of foul calls against NAU mostly down low between Bad Bear and Rasheed. Both Kola Bad Bear and Khiarica Rasheed continued to battle all quarter and MSU took advantage of getting the FT often in the 3rd quarter (11-11 FT).
MSU’s Darian White scored her 1000th point on the last field goal of the 3rd quarter with a beautiful left-hand floater that she got off after splitting the two-guard front of NAU’s 2-3 zone just seconds before the buzzer.
White started the fourth quarter off with a pull-up jumper coming off of a high on-ball screen. Combine that with two more 3’s and more of Bad Bear and the Bobcats cruised to a nice 88-73 victory. Coach Payne made the statement in her post-game comments that she felt the difference in the game was fouling by her team (23 personal fouls) and offensive rebounds by the Bobcats (23). We agree with those two thoughts. We also feel the return of Madison Jackson in the last two games has created more perimeter depth for MSU.
If the Bobcats can get more consistency from behind the arch they will be right at the top of the conference when the league tourney in Boise concludes. However, shooting nights like they had last night have been rare (10/22 3FG). NAU has depth, shooters, and lots of experience with multiple players that can go off for 20 plus on any given night. They too should be playing deep into the tourney in Boise.