(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

(Editor’s Note: This is a release from MSU Billings)

BILLINGS – The MSUB women’s basketball team fell 73-59 to Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent No. 17 Western Washington during Think Pink Night at Alterowitz Thursday.

The Yellowjackets were unable to recover from a poor shooting percentage in the first-half as the Vikings held a double-digit lead they were able to maintain through the final periods. Western Washington outscored MSUB in the paint 42-22 and finished ahead in rebounds 41-30.

“Western Washington is an excellent team,” MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said. “I felt we didn’t play as well in the first half as we should have but a lot of that is because of how good they are. We gave up too many offensive rebounds and had several poor possession on offense which lead to our double digit deficit at halftime.”

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“For us, Tiana battled hard tonight,” Woodin continued. “She has had an excellent season thus far. In addition, Lexi hit some big shots for us, especially in the second half. Both Taylor Peacocke and Tia Briggs are very talented players. Taylor’s three pointers in the first half really hurt us and I thought Tia played a consistent interior game and had several key baskets.”

Senior Tiana Hanson finished with team highs of 18 points and six rebounds. The St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game Lexi Prevost matched her career-high with 15 points, including a career-high four 3-pointers. Marissa Van Atta had nine points. Rylee Kane ended the night with a game-leading five assists with seven points and three steals.

Western Washington was led by a combined 47 points from Taylor Peacocke (25) and Tia Briggs (22). Peacocke was 4 for 6 from the 3-point arc and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. Briggs shot 10 for 14 from the field.

The win moves Western Washington to 23-3 on the year and 17-1 in the GNAC as the Vikings improve their win streak to 17. The loss drops MSU Billings to 8-18 overall and 5-12 in the GNAC.

The Vikings drove their lead up to double-digits during the opening basket of the second quarter on a jumper from Rachel Albert. Kane hit a 3-pointer to close the deficit down to seven, 24-17. The Yellowjackets were able to keep the margin to single digits until a long 3-pointer from Peacocke kicked the lead back to 12 that the Vikings were able to hold onto into the break.

In the third period, the Yellowjackets held the Vikings to single digit points. Grace Week made a jump shot and Kane a layup to cut the deficit to eight, 41-33, with 5:26 left in the third quarter. The Vikings offense made a run at the start of the fourth quarter, finished by a layup from Kiana Gandy that pushed the WWU lead up to 15.

The Yellowjacket made n their offensive run in the middle of the fourth quarter with eight straight points. Prevost hit a step-back 3-pointer and a free-throw. Brina Hull earned a free-throw and Hanson a pair at the line to push MSUB to nine back, 63-54. A steal from Peacocke returned the momentum to the Vikings as she converted on a layup and extra point for a 3-point play. Prevost had one more 3-pointer in the game to close out the MSUB scoring.

The Yellowjackets shot 35.6 percent for the game and were 7 for 23 from the 3-point arc (30.4 percent) while the Vikings finished 27 of 60 for 45.0 percent.

MSUB led in points off of turnovers, 13-6, and as a team shot 15 for 18 (83.3 percent) from the free-throw line.

“Despite the loss, I liked the fight our team displayed in the second half,” Woodin said. “We needed a couple of more shots to fall but I felt we made a nice run at them in the fourth quarter. I would like to once again thank the EVA Project for sponsoring our annual PINK game. It was a great game environment tonight and I know our players were inspired by all of the cancer survivors and their families who were in the crowd.”

THE BUZZ: The loss gives WWU the season sweep over the Yellowjackets…MSUB led WWU in steals 8-6.

UP NEXT: The MSUB women’s basketball returns to the court on Saturday, Feb. 18, during the final doubleheader of the 2016-17 season as the Yellowjacket women host No. 25 Simon Fraser at 5:15 p.m. followed by the men’s Senior Night at 7:30 p.m. against Saint Martin’s.