As time wound down on sixth-seeded Montana State’s 89-66 rout of No. 3 Sacramento State in the first round of the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball tournament at Reese Court Thursday night, Eastern Washington coach Wendy Schuller considered the difficulty of beating a team three times in one season.
“The one thing is Montana State showed it could be done,” Schuller said of the Eagles’ opponent in tonight’s second semifinal.
The Bobcats (17-13) beat the Hornets (15-15) by nine and 11 in a pair of high-scoring games in the regular season. In turn, the Eagles (19-10) beat MSU by six and seven in two much lower-scoring games.
“They look different than when we played because we’re so different than Sacramento State in our style of play,” Schuller said. “This is a game that’s really good for them, getting up and down, and they’ve gotten hot shooting the ball so it’s kind of hard to compare.”
The Bobcats shot 50 percent in both halves, leading 45-31 after the first.
“It’s two completely different teams,” Bobcats coach Trish Binford said. “Eastern’s in first place for a reason. Eastern’s a lot bigger, they slow it down. Eastern’s got a lot of post players, is extremely balanced inside and outside, they don’t make a lot of mistakes and they play very unselfish basketball.”
Against Sacramento State, Katie Bussey led the Bobcats with 21 points, hitting five of eight 3s. Forward Sarah Strand had 14 points and guard Janette Jackson had 12 points and a remarkable 16 rebounds. Also, reserves Ashley Albert and Ally Schmidt and 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Senior Jamie Thornton (Pullman) contributed two points in 5 minutes, junior Lyndie Seidensticker (Lewis and Clark) did not play.
“I don’t know if there is a particular player-to-player matchup,” Schuller said. “One thing we’re going to have to do is score some points.”
Charday Hunt and Emily Christensen had 15 apiece for the Hornets with Christensen grabbing 11 rebounds.
With a strong local flavor, fifth-seeded Portland State upended No. 4 Idaho State 75-61 and meets No. 2 Montana (15-13) in the 3:30 semifinal. Sherri Murrell’s Vikings swept the season series.
Juniors Kelli Valentine (Mead) and Kelly Marchant had 14 points and Lexi Bishop (Shadle Park) matched her career high with 13 for PSU (16-14), which led 41-30 at the half.
Oana Icovita had 22 for ISU (15-15).