MSU Women's Hoops Scrimmage

Montana State head coach Tricia Binford yells from the sideline on Oct. 18 at Worthington Arena.

UC Davis took an early lead in mere seconds. But almost nearly as quickly, Montana State took command when Fallyn Freije connected on a 3-pointer.

No matter how many times the Aggies tried keeping up with MSU, the Bobcats kept pulling away. With efficient shooting, they quickly gained a lead too insurmountable to overcome.

In their home and season opener, the Bobcats went on to secure a 77-65 win over UC Davis on Friday at Worthington Arena.

“This is a really solid win for us against a really talented program,” MSU head coach Tricia Binford said.

The Bobcats recently stressed their defensive production. And they limited the Aggies to just 28 points in the first half as MSU (1-0) led by as many as 23 points before halftime. The Bobcats forced UC Davis into 10 turnovers by intermission and scored 11 points off of them.

And just like it in their exhibition win over Northwest Nazarene, the Bobcats dominated in the paint by scoring 22 points down low and were 10 of 17 on layups.

Binford believed it was one of the best starts for her team, whether it be in practices or exhibitions, this season. She emphasized starting the game up-tempo, and she felt it made a difference.

“We got into a flow, a nice groove,” she said. “I thought a lot of it was carried off of our defense getting stops. We really took care of the basketball.”

The Aggies continuously tried to make a comeback, and the Bobcats continuously prevented it. Even after UC Davis outscored the Bobcats by nine points in the fourth quarter, MSU did just enough to keep the lead intact.

MSU’s efficiency was a large part of that. The Bobcats made 53% of their 3-pointers and 52% of their shots. They held the Aggies to making 42% of their field goals and 32% of their 3s.

“Any given night, anyone can be a scoring threat, and that’s what's so special about our team,” MSU guard Tori Martell said. “Tonight, they knew our posts were good so our guards stepped up and did a lot of the scoring tonight.”

MSU’s well-rounded effort kept UC Davis from making a late comeback. Binford told her players that the Aggies weren’t going to allow immediate offensive chances, so moving the ball was key.

Martell scored 13 points off the bench while making all three of her 3-pointers and all five of her field goals. Madison Jackson added eight points off the bench, while Blaire Braxton provided her normal defensive presence and added five rebounds.

MSU’s bench scored 23 points by the game’s end.

“If felt really good, just coming off the bench and providing a spark off the bench,” Martell said. “I just have the mentality right now of being aggressive and going to the basket when I can.”

Four Bobcats scored in double digits and seven tallied at least six points. True freshman Darian White led MSU with 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting while making 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc. She also totaled a team-high four assists, six rebounds and three steals from her guard position.

“She’s a quick learner as far as picking up some of the possession stuff, time and score situations, end of quarters and end of games. I love how she responded to that. And she’s just a flat-out tough kid,” Binford said. “That’s a pretty good debut. That’s special.”

Binford had previously spoken about how difficult MSU’s nonconference schedule was. The Bobcats still have South Dakota State, Minnesota, Seattle, Gonzaga, Wichita State and Texas A&M left on their schedule.

But Binford believes these games will make the Bobcats better before their Big Sky schedule begins. MSU’s next game is at home against Carroll at 11 a.m. Monday.

“We won, and that’s all that matters right now,” Martell said. “We got our first win, and we can clean up the rest from there.”

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.