RENO – It was a wire-to-wire victory for the Vandals on Wednesday night in Reno, as Idaho took down Montana State, 78-74, to advance to Friday's semifinal. The Vandals will next take on the winner of Eastern Washington and Portland State, tipping off later tonight. The semifinal matchup will tip off at 2:35 p.m.
Junior Mikayla Ferenz helped close out the win with a game-high 27 points. She went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and scored 12 of Idaho's 21 fourth-quarter points. Taylor Pierce hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. She again surpassed Sacramento State's Maranne Johnson for the Big Sky career record, now with 302 3's.
How it Happened
The Vandals got up early and never gave up their lead, holding an advantage for nearly 39 minutes. The Idaho offense did not lose a step in its time off. Ferenz opened the scoring in style draining her first 3 of the contest. The team got out to a 10-3 run, holding Montana State to just two field goals in the first five minutes. The Vandals hit four 3's in the quarter and shot 50 percent (8-16) to gain a 13-point lead.
Allison Kirby scored five quick points to begin the second, extending the Vandal lead to 25-9. The Bobcats came to life midway through the quarter, posting a 7-0 run to cut the Idaho advantage to 25-16. MSU outscored the Vandals 24-18 in the period, trimming the Idaho lead to seven at the break.
The Silver and Gold came out of the locker room on an 8-0 run, extending its lead back up to 15 points in the first two minutes of the half. The Bobcats again cut the lead down to single digits, 57-48, by the quarter's end.
Montana State threatened to overtake the lead in the final quarter. Idaho hit a 0-for-7 shooting slump and saw its lead dwindle to two, 62-60, with 4:15 to go. Pierce hit a big 3 for the Vandals out of an Idaho timeout to end the offensive slump. Ferenz hit the biggest shot of the night, draining a 3 to go up 68-63 with 49 seconds to play.
Idaho went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 40 seconds to wrap up the win.