CHERRY SCORES GAME-HIGH 20, BUT NOT ENOUGH IN LOSS AT MONTANA STATE
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana State quickly took advantage of its double-digit halftime lead and pulled away from Sacramento State in the second period en route to a 80-54 victory on Thursday night at Worthington Arena.
The Bobcats win helped improve their standing in the Big Sky Conference, moving alone into fifth place with a 6-6 conference record. Montana State is 11-13 overall.
The Bobcats finished with four players scoring in double figures, while shooting 52.5 percent from the floor. Coupled with Sacramento State's 22 turnovers and 4-of-19 performance from beyond the arc, the Hornets began trailing the Bobcats late in the first half and failed to recover.
Sacramento State (3-22, 1-10) remains at the bottom of the Big Sky standings.
Off the bench, Whitney Connolly scored a team-high 13 points and added seven rebounds for the Bobcats, while Jamie Thornton totaled 11 points. Amanda DeHaan and Montana State's overall leading scorer Rebecca Mercer added 10 points each.
For the fourth time this season, senior point guard Stephanie Cherry led the the Hornets in scoring with a game-high 20 points. On a 5-of-12 shooting performance, the Susisun, Calif., native knocked down two three-pointers and did the majority of her damage from the free throw line, sinking 8-of-9 attempts - a new season high for Cherry and one short of her career best. She also added a team-best three steals.
Sophomore forward Jourdan Willard was one point and one rebound short of a double-double with nine points and a career-high tying nine rebounds. Senior guard Kim Sheehy also added nine points, while draining a basket from beyond the three-point line.
The Bobcats took advantage in the paint outscoring Sacramento State 44-22, and also created 32 of its points off Hornet turnovers.
Sacramento State's only lead, 8-6, came with 15:17 in the first after a made Cherry three-pointer. Montana State took the lead for good on their next posession, but the Hornets were within striking distance for the majority of the first 20 minutes.
After a layup from Lexi Lallas and Sheehy's only three-pointer of the night, Sacramento State trailed 20-18 with 6:33 to go.
The Bobcats then proceeded to end the half on a 17-4 run for a 37-22 advantage at the break.
The Hornets opened the second half with two quick buckets from Willard and sophomore Becca Reams to cut Montana State's lead to nine, but that was the last time the Bobcats' edge would be single digits.
Montana State's 15-4 run over the next five minutes built their lead to 20 points by the 12:27 mark of the second half.
Sacramento State has one game left on this weekend's road trip, heading to Weber State on Saturday with tip off scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PST. The Wildcats are 15-11 overall and 10-3 in the Big Sky after a 76-61 loss to Big Sky-leading Montana (23-2, 11-1).
Notes: After scoring 20 points, Cherry comes closer to cracking the all-time points leaders...her 805 career points are now 35 short of cracking the top 10...her 157 career steals now rank fifth all-time, she is four short of moving into the fourth spot...Kim Sheehy's 163 three-pointers are just 13 short of eclipsing the current all-time leader, Michelle St. Clair (175).