WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Montana State edges UND 67-63

Junior guard Nicole Smart effectively summarized UND's feeling following Sunday afternoon's matchup with future Big Sky Conference partner Montana State.

Junior guard Nicole Smart effectively summarized UND's feeling following Sunday afternoon's matchup with future Big Sky Conference partner Montana State.

"We definitely showed we can play in the Big Sky," Smart said, "but we also have a long ways to go."

UND proved equipped for its new league, but it was far from satisfied after the Bobcats used a late shot from Ashley Albert to win 67-63 at The Betty.

With the game tied at 63, Albert scored on a post move with nine seconds remaining.

UND darted back the other way and Charnise Mothershed missed an open 15-footer from the left wing. The Bobcats snagged the rebound and Albert followed with a pair of game-clinching free throws.


UND had held a nine-point lead early in the second half.

"Our focus isn't anywhere close to where it needs to be if we want to be a Division I team and compete with good teams," Roebuck said. "We shot ourselves in the foot. We had a lead and all we had to do was knock down a shot."

UND led 35-32 at halftime and by as many as 41-32 with 17:47 to go, but the Bobcats didn't take long to recapture the lead from there.

Montana State, which was picked to finish fourth in the Big Sky this season, responded to UND's nine-point edge by going on a 12-2 run to take a 44-43 lead with 14:23 left.

Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way until the final seconds.

Smart's 15-footer with 32 seconds left tied the game at 63, setting the stage for Albert's big shot.

The 6-foot-1 Albert backed down a shorter defender on the block and scooped in a left-handed shot.

"(Albert) came into the huddle and said she had a mismatch," Montana State coach Tricia Binford said. "We tried to get her isolated."


Binford was complimentary of UND, particularly defensively.

"They were the most physical team we've seen this season," she said. "Our guards didn't handle it well in the first half. UND is the biggest, strongest team we've faced and we've faced a few, so that tells you the respect I have for that program."

UND (4-3) will join the Bobcats (7-2) in the Big Sky next season.

"Unfortunately, I think they'll be extremely competitive," Binford said. "We're going to have to make sure we keep getting better."

Katie Bussey, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, paced the Bobcat offense. She finished with 26 points thanks to a 3-for-5 performance from the 3-point line. Albert chipped in 18 points.

"You can only coach so far and at some point you just have to put the ball in certain players' hands," Binford said. "We put it in Katie's hands today."

UND was led by Smart's career-high 19 points and seven rebounds. The Ada, Minn., native was 7-for-12 from the field.

Smart was joined in double figures by Madi Buck, who had 14 points and a season-high 14 rebounds to register her third double double of the season.


"Give me five Madi Bucks, and I'd be fine with that," Roebuck said. "She mixed it up on both ends of the floor."

The post play for UND, however, wasn't up to Roebuck's standards. Starting center Allyssa Wall had eight points, while Emily Evers had two and Katie Houdek finished with one.

"Our three posts seemed slow and did some crazy things," Roebuck said. "That's unacceptable.

"We weren't ready to play, even in the shoot-around. It was lazy today. Today was the first time I've had to call a team meeting after a shoot-around to try to get them going."

UND next plays at Colorado State on Thursday.

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