Bobcats battle Huskies in First Round


BOZEMAN, Mont. - For the first time in 24 years, the Montana State women's basketball team is heading to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bobcats clinched the berth by winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Saturday, but there were still some nerves and anxiety to settle when it came to the Big Dance.

MSU hosted a Women's Tournament Selection Show watch party at the Strand Union Building on campus Monday evening. Plenty of Cats fans came out to support the ladies, as they awaited their fate in the bracket.

The Big Sky champions had to wait patiently, about 35 minutes into the selection show on ESPN, until it was revealed that the 14th-seeded Bobcats will play the 3rd-seeded Washington Huskies in Seattle in the First Round.

The game is scheduled to take place on Saturday at 7 p.m. Mountain.

"Obviously, they have tremendous talent with the leading scorer in the nation," said head coach Tricia Binford. "We're going to have our hands full, but we always give a great effort. We're going to go out there fighting and giving it our best with Bobcat basketball."

Washington is a very formidable opponent, as the Huskies made the Final Four last season, and boast the all-time leading women's scorer in NCAA history in senior point guard Kelsey Plum.

Washington will also be playing on its home court, Alaska Airlines Arena, where the Huskies went 16-1 this season.

After getting plenty of good luck wishes, the players say they are excited the selection process is now over.

"I will say that I was a little bit more nervous than I had thought I was going to be," said senior forward Riley Nordgaard. "I was probably more nervous for this selection show than the first tournament game. But, it was a pretty cool feeling just to see that Bobcat head on ESPN. That was pretty cool."

The Bobcats also get to play at the opening round tournament site that is closest to them. The state of Washington is home to four Montana State players, with two reigning from the Seattle area.

"We're just really excited for the opportunity," said junior guard and Spokane native Hannah Caudill. "I'm kind of at a loss for words, just because it's such a surreal moment. My brother lives in Seattle, I know some are from Seattle, Delany (Junkermier) is from Spokane, so I think we will have a good turnout there."

If MSU were to pull off the upset, the Bobcats would play the winner of 11th-seeded Gonzaga and 6th-seeded Oklahoma in the Second Round.