FAIRBANKS, Alaska – A heavy night all-around for MSUB as the Yellowjackets were unable to get anything going on either end of the floor, falling 66-42 in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference road game at the Patty Center and Alaska Airlines Court Saturday.
Mustering just five points in the first quarter, the Yellowjackets were unable to push through scoring troubles finishing 2 for 15 from the 3-point line and completing just two free-throws on the night. The Yellowjackets finished the game at 32.8 percent, but a large rebounding deficit of 18 (46-28) had the ‘Jackets unable to find second changes or extra possessions.
Down by nine, 26-17 at half-time, the ‘Jackets dropped the deficit to eight in the opening two minutes of the third quarter, but the Nanooks responded sharply, opening up an 18-point margin at the end of the period that MSU Billings was unable to recover from.
“Give Alaska a lot of credit, they outplayed us tonight,” MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said. “I felt in the first half we had a lot of open looks and despite being down by nine points, since we had missed a lot of shots that normally we make, the game should have been a lot closer.”
“We hoped to make a run at them in the third quarter, but they dominated the second half,” Woodin continued. “We tried to regroup a couple of times, but they kept coming at us and they shot the ball much better than we did tonight which was critical. They also dominated on the glass at +18 boards which was also important.”
The win for Alaska improves the Nanooks to 10-9 and 6-6 in the GNAC. MSUB falls to 6-14 and 3-9 in the league.
For the first time this season, MSUB’s Tiana Hanson was held to single digit points as the GNAC’s fourth-best scorer (16.2 ppg) came away with 10 fewer than her average at six points.
At 10 points, junior Marissa Van Atta was the lone Yellowjacket to finish in double figures. Rylee Kane had nine points and Grace Weeks eight points. Lexi Prevost was 2 for 2 from the free-throw line.
Several times during the game, the Yellowjacket offense remained frozen, leaving the Nanooks to forge ahead on multiple runs.
In a low scoring first 10 minutes, the Yellowjackets earned a jumper from Hanson and a 3-pointer from Kane to take a 5-2 lead at 7:22 for MSUB’s only of the game and the only points of the opening period. The ‘Jackets began to fall behind as turnovers and forced shots allowed Alaska an 8-0 run at the end of the quarter to put the Nanooks up 11-5.
Kaillee Skjold finished a driving layup to put the Nanooks ahead by double-digits, 19-9, in the second quarter. Hanson broke MSUB into double-digit scoring with a layup at just under five minutes left in the second quarter. Alaska grabbed its largest lead of the first half on a layup from Skjold at 13 points, 26-13. MSUB closed the deficit down to single digits scoring the last four points before the break on baskets from Jeanann Lemelin and Weeks for 26-17.
Weeks and Hanson pulled MSUB to within eight, 31-23, at the start of the third quarter. The Nanooks began to pull away again as the Alaska shooting percentage climbed to over 40 percent in the quarter and MSUB’s dipped below 35 percent. At the start of the fourth quarter, no Yellowjacket had double-digit points as Alaska used an 18-6 seven minute run to move ahead by 16, 45-29.
The Yellowjackets scored their most points in the fourth quarter, as did Alaska. Freshman Taylor Cunningham earned the Yellowjackets second 3-pointer of the game for MSUB’s last points of the night.
Jordan Wilson (21 pts, 8 rbs), Skjold (20 pts, 9 rbs), and Jaylee Mays (15 pts, six rbs) led Alaska’s scoring. Victoria Milton had seven assists and eight rebounds.
Alaska was 10 for 12 from the free-throw line with six team steals. The Nanooks led MSUB in points in the paint (24-16) and second chance points (13-7).
THE BUZZ: Van Atta named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…this is the second straight game MSUB was held to single digit points in a quarter…three MSUB players had two assists.
UP NEXT: MSU Billings opens the month of February with two home games hosting Saint Martin’s on Thursday, Feb. 2, followed by a game against Seattle Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 4. Both games begin at 7 p.m.