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2 Bobcats ready for homecoming in Seattle

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Montana State women's basketball team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 24 years.

The Bobcats will play Washington in the first round on the Huskies' home court Saturday, but a pair of players from Seattle suburbs will feel right at home in the hostile environment.

Senior point guard Margreet Barhoum reigns from Edmonds, and freshman forward Madeline Smith is a Snohomish native.

"My career is ending in a couple of weeks, and the opportunity to play at UW, a place that I had watched a ton of games growing up, is just so exciting," Barhoum said. "It's almost surreal."

"I know I'm going to have a lot of family there, and that ought to be fun," Smith said. "It's probably been since Christmas that I've been able to go home, so I'm really excited."

Having grown up in the Seattle area, Barhoum and Smith played with or against some of the six Washington natives on the Huskies' team.

"Kelli Kingma, I played on a few AAU teams with her," Barhoum said. "We always played against the Kingmas growing up. Heather Corral, I played on the same AAU team as her. Then Katie Collier, she's from the Seattle area, and I played against her a bunch."

The homecoming opportunity is an added bonus to the experience of playing in the NCAA Tournament, where the Bobcats haven't competed since 1993, making it a crowning achievement for Barhoum and the senior class.

"We're just having so much fun and just loving and enjoying every single moment of this amazing, crazy experience," Barhoum said. "I'm truly excited for the program moving forward, now that we did set this benchmark."

Smith and the rest of the team's underclassmen are thrilled to be along for the ride, but they are even more excited for their three senior teammates to finally experience March Madness.

"The seniors have been dreaming of this for years, so I know as we got closer, we were doing it for them," Smith said. "It's something that they've worked for for so long. Being able to be a part of it is amazing."

The rest of the Montana State team will be getting plenty of support in Seattle, as the Bobcats' ticket allotment for the game has already sold out.

The Cats' clash with Washington is scheduled for 7 p.m. MDT at Alaska Airlines Arena.

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