(Editor's Note: Quotes included from Montana State Press Release)
With four starters and nine total veterans returning from last year's conference tournament championship team, Montana State Women's Basketball was tabbed to finish first in both the coaches and media Big Sky preseason polls, the conference announced Wednesday.
The Bobcats, who went 22-13 overall and reached its third NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, received all nine first-place votes from Big Sky coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team, which is why Idaho received one first-place vote.
“It’s nice to be recognized for the championship culture we’ve built at Montana State,” head coach Tricia Binford said. “I think our biggest opponent is who we see in the mirror, every day. We’ve got to look in that mirror and be better today than we were yesterday. We know that this conference – every single year - has great teams and great coaches that step up and can beat anyone on any given night.
Montana State returns Big Sky Tournament MVP Darian White, as well as Kola Bad Bear who was an all-tournament selection. Other returning starters include Katelynn Limardo and Leia Beattie.
The University of Montana, who returns eight of its top nine scorers from last season, was tabbed to finish second with 65 points.
The Lady Griz haven't won a Big Sky Conference championship since sweeping the league’s regular-season and tournament titles in 2014-15.
The media poll saw some shake-up, but the top two teams remained the same with Montana State selected to finish first with 257 points (24 first-place votes), while Montana totaled 204 for a second-place selection (one first-place vote).
“We have to respect every single opponent,” Binford added. “But the biggest competition for us is that we have to be our best identity when we show up.”
Montana State will host an exhibition game against South Dakota Mines on Nov. 5 at 1p.m. MT. Montana tips off its season at home against North Dakota State on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. MT.