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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Area sports

Idaho women hit 14 3-pointers to hold off Montana State in Big Sky Tournament opener

March 7, 2018 Updated Wed., March 7, 2018 at 9:48 p.m.

RENO, Nevada – The Idaho women can rain 3-pointers all night long, but they also know how to survive a drought.

After a 16-point lead dwindled to two, the Vandals made enough plays to preserve a 78-74 win over Montana State (16-15) in a Big Sky Conference quarterfinal game Wednesday night.

“That’s what we kept saying,” Vandal coach Jon Newlee said. “They were making a run, but we also felt confidence in ourselves, that our players believed they were going to win this game.”

Confirmation didn’t come until the final minutes, when Idaho’s “Splash Sisters,” Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce, closed out the defending tournament champs with two more 3-pointers.

Pierce, who earlier in the game made her 300th career 3-pointer, put the second-seeded Vandals up 65-60 with 2 1/2 minutes left. The Bobcats answered with a 3-pointer from Oliana Squires and had a chance to tie, but Idaho forced a miss and got another big 3-pointer from Ferenz to lead 68-63 with 49 seconds left.

Pierce, the leading 3-point shooter in Big Sky history, hit seven against MSU. Ferenz had five on the way to a game-high 27 points. Both played all 40 minutes.

“It wasn’t really a competition,” Ferenz said. “But I know that to win, I needed to hit some big shots.”

Idaho’s 14 3-pointers are tied for the second most in tournament history, matching its 2016 showing in the quarterfinals against Eastern Washington. The record is 19 by Sacramento State last year.

Idaho had MSU on the ropes early as Pierce and Ferenz each hit a pair of early 3-pointers to make it 16-7. The Vandals made another 3-point-driven push early in the second to take their biggest lead of the half, 23-7.

Leading 38-31 at halftime, the Vandals (18-12) again threatened to put the game out of reach. A 3-pointer from Ferenz made it 60-48 with 9 minutes left, but MSU clawed back in the fourth quarter.

Five Bobcats finished in double figures, led by Laura Spanger with 17. The game closed out the collegiate careers of Spokane products Hannah Caudill and Delany Junkermier, who helped lead MSU to the NCAA Tournament last year.

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