(Photo Courtesy MSU Billings)

MSUB Athletics

BILLINGS – The Montana State Billings women’s basketball team will try and shake off a pair of Great Northwest Athletic Conference home losses last week as the Yellowjackets hit the road for games at Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s.

MSUB fell in a rare double loss to conference opponents at home in Alterowitz against Alaska and No. 3 Alaska Anchorage. The Yellowjackets will look to redeem themselves as they travel to the west coast for a pair of early games as MSUB takes to the court first during doubleheaders at both venues.

After opening the GNAC season in early December with a split on the road, MSU Billings (4-8 1-3 GNAC) found themselves down early to both teams at Alterowitz last week, eventually surrendering each contest by double-digits.

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The Yellowjackets will need to improve their on-court chemistry and communication as they go up two tough GNAC opponents this week on the road.

ROAD WARRIORS: January looks to be a tough travelling month for MSUB. The ‘Jackets play six of eight games away from Alterowitz, beginning with the two this week in Seattle and Lacey, and ending the month in Alaska. With their schedule, MSUB will need to focused right out-of-the gate as they make their way down the first half of the conference slate.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP: With one active senior on the roster, Tiana Hanson has stepped-up and is playing an increased role in all areas for the ‘Jacket squad. Hanson transferred-in last year to the team, but has shown major strides in her game and is playing a pivotal leadership role. The 6-foot forward from Shepherd, Mont., is fifth in the GNAC in points with 15.8 per game and eighth in rebounds at 6.0. Hanson is shooting better than 80.0 percent from the free-throw line and is second in the conference in blocked shots with 1.2 per game.

FLOOR GENERAL: Junior point guard Rylee Kane is third in the GNAC in assists at 5.9 per game. She is averaging 9.8 points per game and 1.9 steals. Kane is second on the team in rebounds with 3.7 per game and second in blocked shots at .4. Kane moved beyond the 300 mark in career assists last week and has 305.

DOUBLE-DIGITS FOR VAN ATTA: Marissa Van Atta had two of her best offensive games of the season last week. The junior scored team-highs of 13 points against Alaska and 12 versus Alaska Anchorage. She was 11 for 16 in the two contests with six rebounds and three assists. Van Atta is averaging a team third-best 8.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

CUNNINGHAM ON OFFENSE: Freshman Taylor Cunningham produced her best offensive outing of the season shooting 4 for 5 from the field against Alaska Anchorage for her second-highest game of the year by finishing with eight points. In her first season as a Yellowjacket, Cunningham is averaging a little over 20 minutes on the floor, and is fourth on the team in rebounds with 3.2 per game.

ENERGIZED EDWARDS: Sophomore Taylor Edwards is averaging 8.6 points and leads the team in 3-point attempts at 5.9 per game. She contributed a season-high three assists in the game last week against Alaska Anchorage.

FROM THE OUTSIDE: The Yellowjackets have the third-best team total in conference 3-pointers at 69. Junior Lexi Prevost is 15th in the league in 3-point percentage at 35.7 percent.

MSUB RESERVES: The Yellowjacket bench provided quality minutes for MSUB in both games last week. Against Alaska, the reserves caught the ‘Jackets back up from being down by eight to a single possession in the second quarter. Brina Hull was 2 for 2 from the 3-point arc. Jeanann Lemelin had four points, three rebounds, and an assist in 10 minutes off the bench. Janessa Williams had two points and one rebound in six minutes, Sophia Wass shot 1 for 1 from the field with a rebound, and Abbie Lohof added two rebounds and an assist in six minutes on the floor.

BY THE NUMBERS: MSUB is averaging 59.7 points per game on 38.3 percent shooting. The team is 30.5 percent from outside with 28.6 rebounds per game.

Thursday, Jan. 5 – at Seattle Pacific University Falcons – 5:15 p.m. Pacific time
Seattle, Wash. | Live Stats | Live Video
2016-17 Record: 11-1, 3-1 GNAC
Head Coach: Julie Heisey, 12 season
2015-16 Record: 12-15, 9-11 GNAC, 7th

Seattle Pacific enters the week ranked No. 15 in the nation. The Falcons had an 11-0 start to their season before Northwest Nazarene broke the streak last week, handing SPU a 73-66 loss in Seattle. SPU will be gunning to get back into the win column hosting Saint Martins and MSUB to finish out a seven game home stand.

SPU is No. 4 in the nation in fewest points allowed at 51.6. The Falcons are also No. 7 in assists (18.4pg) and No. 10 in assist/turnover ratio (1.28).

Seattle Pacific is a well-balanced scoring team. Courtney Hollander (12.2ppg), Jordan McPhee (11.3ppg), and Erica Pagano (8.9ppg) are the top offensive threats for the Falcons.

Hollander, a 6-foot junior is third in the GNAC in rebounds at 8.0 per game. Rachel Shim leads the team in assists at 2.7 per game.

The Falcons are third in the conference in free-throw percentage at 77.7 percent, and are fourth in 3-point shooting at 33.9 percent. SPU is also tied for No. 1 in offensive rebounds with 39.8 per game.

All-Time Record (20-27, 5-19 Away): MSUB is seven games behind in overall contests against the Falcons. SPU holds a much larger winning percentage on its home court.

Last Season: MSUB split its regular season games against the Falcons, winning by 11 at home, 61-50, and dropping a contest in Seattle, 52-43.

Saturday, Jan. 7 – at Saint Martin’s University Saints – 5:15 p.m. Pacific time
Lacey, Wash. | Live Stats | Live Video
2016-17 Record: 4-8, 0-4 GNAC
Head Coach: Tim Healy, 24th season
2015-16 Record: 7-20, 5-15 GNAC, 9th

Saint Martin’s is the last team in the conference searching for a GNAC win this season. The Saints are 4-8 overall, but have begun their GNAC schedule with four straight losses. The Saints were within single digits in both losses at home last week to Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington. This week, SMU travels to Seattle to play the Falcons before returning home to host MSUB on Saturday.

Elin Johansson is leading the Saints with 13.3 points per game and is fifth in the conference in rebounds at 6.5 per game. Hannah Reynolds is averaging 4.7 assists and leads the team from the free-throw line at 76.6 percent.

The Saints are averaging 63.4 points on 37.6 percent shooting from the field. SMU is leading the GNAC in 3-point defense at 28.3 percent.

All-Time Record (24-10, 11-8 Away): MSUB has a large overall winning percentage against the Saints, but is more even against SMU in Lacey. The Yellowjackets have won nine of the last 11 games against the Saints.

Last Season: MSUB won both games against SMU last season, taking the first game at home 64-49, and on the road 56-52.