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BOZEMAN — The Montana State women's basketball team will play its first game of the 2019-20 season when it hosts Northwest Nazarene on Monday at 7 p.m. at Worthington Arena. The game is an exhibition contest for both squads and will not count toward their win/loss records.

Montana State enters the season as the Big Sky Conference's preseason favorites. The Bobcats were picked to finish atop the league in both the preseason coaches and media polls. In addition, North Dakota transfer Fallyn Freije was tabbed as the Big Sky's preseason MVP, while senior Oliana Squires was also named to the All-Big Sky Conference preseason team.

Last season, the Bobcats posted a 16-15 overall record and an 11-9 league ledger. MSU fell to eventual Big Sky champion Portland State 68-56 in quarterfinal action. MSU returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last year's squad.

"We're excited to get the season started," 15th-year coach Tricia Binford said in an MSU press release. "Northwest Nazarene is coming off an outstanding season and will give us a good test. We still have a lot of work to do before the regular-season opener, but this game will give us a good sense for where we are, and where we need to get to by next Friday night."

Northwest Nazarene was picked to finish fourth in the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Nighthawks are coming off a 29-3 record that included the program's first GNAC tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA West Regional semifinals.

NNU features Avery Albrecht, who was first-team All-GNAC and second-team All-West Region last season. Albrecht averaged 13.7 points per game a year ago. She is joined by fellow senior Marina Valles, who was a second team All-GNAC pick.

Montana State will tip off its regular-season schedule when it hosts UC Davis on Friday. The Aggies are coming off their third consecutive Big West Conference regular-season title. UC Davis posted a 25-7 overall mark and a 15-1 league record last year.

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