No. 7 Portland State shocks No. 2 Montana State in Big Sky quarterfinals

Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 05, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — There will be a new champion in the women's Big Sky Conference tournament.

No. 7 Portland State upset No. 2 Montana State 77-65 in the quarterfinal round of the tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Vikings were boosted by hot shooting from beyond the arc as they completed 15 of 32 attempts from deep.


“The three-ball has been a tough area for us the entire season,” Montana State head coach Tricia Binford said. “Portland State came in super loose and were hot early. We just didn’t counter what they were doing, and we didn’t hit our shots.” 

Esmeralda Morales poured in 28 points and converted six 3-pointers, and Jada Lewis added 17 points and also knocked home five shots from deep. The Vikings shot 41.1% from the field.

Portland State jumped out fast as the Bobcats struggled to find their footing, and PSU grabbed a quick 15-5 lead late in the first quarter. The Vikings went on to lead 35-26 at halftime.

Portland State grabbed its biggest lead at 48-27 with 5:50 left in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Alaya Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was also big for Portland State with 16 points and five assists.

The Bobcats (20-11) rallied from there, getting within eight points early in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings (15-15) held on down the stretch as they won their second game in as many days to advance to the semifinal round.

“We didn’t have very good balance and we were not efficient with the things we were trying to do,” Binford said. “Today, was a lot more physical than what we had at their place a week ago.” 

Darian White and Lexi Deden led the Bobcats with 14 points each while Leia Beattie had 12. Deden also grabbed nine boards and Kola Bad Bear tacked on 11 points. The Bobcats shot 33.9% from the field and went 7 for 26 from deep and also committed 17 turnovers.

“I love these kids,” Binford said. “Endings are hard, but journeys are amazing. They’ve left a tremendous legacy.” 

White's 14 points moved her to 1,716 career points, which moved her to No. 2 on the MSU all-time scoring list.