BOZEMAN — The Montana State women's basketball team on Saturday exhibited some of the same inconsistent play as in its first two games of the season, and it led to a lopsided loss at UNLV.

The Rebels held the Bobcats to single-digit points in the first and fourth quarters and cruised to an 80-42 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

MSU began the year with a 69-60 home victory over Carroll College on Tuesday but suffered a 72-47 setback Thursday at Gonzaga. In both games, the Bobcats struggled to execute their offense to the extent they’d like. They were plagued by the same struggles against UNLV, where they shot 19 of 61 (31.1%) overall and just 1 of 15 from 3-point range.

Equally concerning for MSU head coach Tricia Binford is the lack of a defensive identity through the team’s first three games.

“It’s two games where we have not been able to get stops or force mistakes, and that’s actually three games if you include Carroll in that mix,” she said. “That was really our bread and butter last year.”

The Rebels (2-0) shot 30 of 65 (46.2%) overall en route to scoring 18 points in the first and fourth quarters and 22 points in the middle quarters. Desi-Rae Young led all players with 21 points and was backed up by Essence Booker with 19.

MSU guard Darian White was the team’s only player to reach double-figure scoring with 12 points. She had five rebounds and four assists, and she also hit the team’s only 3-pointer.

For the second straight game, freshman Lindsey Hein earned a spot in the starting lineup. After being held scoreless against Gonzaga, she was limited to two points against UNLV. She scored 16 points against Carroll.

Not counting White and Hein, MSU’s other starters combined for eight points — six from Mia Hughes, two from Katelynn Limardo and none from Leia Beattie.

Kola Bad Bear led MSU off the bench with six points. Madison Jackson, Ashley Van Sickle and Ava Ranson all had four. Lexi Deden completed the Bobcats’ scoring with two.

“We’re not playing as a team right now on both ends,” Binford said. “We’re getting hammered on possessions and we’re making it really hard on ourselves.”

Those troubles started early, as UNLV led 18-6 after the first 10 minutes and 40-21 at halftime.

Nneka Obiazor was the third UNLV player to score in double digits with 11. The Rebels hit 8 of 17 from 3-point range and earned 21 foul shots compared to MSU’s four. The latter statistic indicated to Binford that the Bobcats had trouble keeping the ball out of the paint.

“UNLV was very strong and athletic,” she said. “I just felt like the pace of the game was playing at a pace faster than what we were ready for.”

For MSU to improve on the offensive end, Binford said the team needs to force more turnovers and execute their offense with a little more precision. That will lead to better shots and more opportunities at the free-throw line.

“We’re certainly not the attacker right now on either end which is why other teams are living at the foul line and we are not,” Binford said. “We’ve been reactive. We have not set a tone. We’ve got to get ourselves to the foul line.”

Binford said the team’s focus is the starting point for how to get past this pair of losses. The team will have a few days at home before heading back on the road at the end of next week to face South Dakota State on Thursday and North Dakota on Saturday.

For the Bobcats to get the most out of their nonconference schedule, Binford said the team’s adjustments will have to come quickly, especially since the Bobcats don’t play at home again until early December.

“We’re going to have to take a look at what we’re doing differently,” she said. “Right now it seems like it’s deflating that we’re not getting easy opportunities in transition and having a hard time getting the ball moving on the offensive end. Fortunately it’s November, so we’ve got a couple months to figure this out.”

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