MSU Women's Hoops v. N. Colorado (copy)

Bobcats head coach Tricia Binford talks to guard Darian White on Jan. 9 at Worthington Arena.

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Montana State 16th year head coach Tricia Binford has been named Big Sky Conference Co-Coach of the Year, the league office announced Monday morning. Binford shares the honor with Idaho State’s Seton Sobolewski.

For the second straight year, Binford has captured the league’s top coaching honor. The route to both accolades is as different as night and day. Last season, Binford had the luxury of five seniors, three of which were the winningest class in Montana State history. The team posted a 25-6 overall mark and dominated the Big Sky with a 19-1 league slate, a Big Sky Conference record.

This season, Binford sported one of the youngest teams in the nation. At an average age of 19.3, the Bobcats, along with Oral Roberts, LaSalle and Incarnate Word were the noted youngest squads at the NCAA Division I level. In addition, MSU’s seven freshmen were second most in the nation, and its six true freshmen were among in the most in the country, as well. Only 10 schools had a higher percentage of players with two years of NCAA Division I experience or less.

With a squad comprised of one senior, two juniors, five sophomores and seven freshmen, Binford guided the team to a 16-6 regular season mark, a 13-3 Big Sky ledger and a No. 3 seed at the league tournament. MSU finished one game back of regular season champion Idaho State in the loss column.

And, she was able to put it all together, successfully, during a global pandemic.

“I am so proud of Tricia and the entire women’s basketball program on being named Big Sky Co-Coach of the Year,” said Director of Athletics Leon Costello. “This is an incredible accomplishment given the number of seniors that needed to be replaced from last year’s record-breaking team.

“It speaks to Coach Binford’s ability to identify talent that is ready to step in and make an immediate impact and mold them with a great nucleus of returners,” Costello added. “There is no one more deserving of this honor and I am looking forward to more years of success with Coach Binford at the helm of this very young and talented team.”

This is the third league honor for Binford, who also won the award last season and during the 2015-16 campaign. Binford has led MSU to eight top-three Big Sky finishes in her 16 seasons at the helm of the Bobcat program. 

Montana State opens play at the Big Sky Conference Tournament, Tuesday, March 9 at 8 p.m., against the winner of Montana/Sacramento State at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

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Parker Cotton can be reached at pcotton@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @ByParkerCotton. 

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