BOZEMAN – As the second quarter began, a lot went wrong for the Montana State women’s basketball team. The Bobcats found an easy way to get things right: feeding Leia Beattie the ball.
Beattie scored a career-high 27 points in MSU’s 74-65 overtime win over San Jose State Tuesday night at the Provident Credit Union Event Center in San Jose, Calif. Ten of Beattie’s points came in the second quarter after the Bobcats (4-1) fell 13 points behind the Mountain West Conference Spartans (1-3).
“You have to run to certain rhythms when they run. She definitely had that, and we needed it today,” MSU head coach Tricia Binford told 406mtsports.com over the phone. “We struggled to place points on the board and take care of the basketball, so I loved that she was ready to shoot.”
After building a 17-15 lead through a quarter, MSU gave up a 15-0 run to start the second. Sideline traps and a strong post-entry defense by the Spartans sparked their dominant first seven minutes of the quarter, Binford said.
The Cats not only stopped the momentum, they turned it completely back in their favor.
Beattie made it 30-19 with a jump shot and hit a fast break layup on the next possession. After a layup by teammate Kola Bad, Beattie hit consecutive 3 points to send MSU into halftime on a 12-0 run, 30-29 behind.
“Leia really took over in the second quarter,” Binford said. “Could have been a double digit deficit for us but she got hot at the right time.”
The third quarter didn’t shake nearly as drastically, but Beattie shone again. The Midland, Texas native opened the MSU goal with another 3, and she completed a four-point play late in the quarter to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point advantage.
“Thank the players for finding them all,” Binford said, adding, “The team recognized that she was in it. Obviously you want to go through the kid running at the right time.
The Cats took a 60-56 lead in the last quarter but went cold in the last three minutes and the game went into overtime with a 61-61 draw.
After two buckets that built two two-point leads, SJSU missed their last 11 shots of overtime, allowing MSU to end the game on a 9-0 run.
“It was ugly, it was gritty, it was agony and kids found a way down the track. It could have gone a lot of different ways,” Binford said. “Credit San Jose State. I felt they did a great job in forcing a lot of mistakes.”
Both Beattie and Bad Bear finished plus-minus from plus-19. Bad Bear added 13 points (5 of 10 from the field), four rebounds and three steals, while Grace Beasley added 16 points (9 of 11 from the free throw line) and six boards. Big Sky Conference Preseason Player of the Year Darian White only scored two points on 2 of 9 shots, but she clinched 10 rebounds that set a game high.
SJSU went 5-25 in the 2021-22 season, splitting its games against Big Sky teams, beating Eastern Washington 77-67 and losing to Sacramento State 75-65 last November.
MSU meets Abilene Christian Friday at 4 p.m. Mountain Time in Denton, Texas.