(Photo Courtesy MSU Billings)

MSUB Athletics release

BILLINGS – The Yellowjacket women’s basketball team will be home this week for their last two games of the 2016-17 season hosting Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene. Senior Tiana Hanson will be honored during a Senior Night ceremony following Saturday’s contest against the Crusaders.

Closing out its season Montana State University Billings has two more games at Alterowitz as the ‘Jackets finish their season hosting the first two conference teams they played more than two months ago at the beginning of December.

Hanson and student assistant Alyssa Yaeger will be recognized after the game against Northwest Nazarene.

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This week the Yellowjackets will work to end the season on a strong note. The ‘Jackets are on a 3-game losing streak, but a pair of wins could leave MSUB with a solid ending to a challenging year. In addition to a live video steam and statistics, the game on Thursday against Central Washington will be broadcast on ESPN 910 radio.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP: Hanson, the lone active senior on the MSUB roster, has been a rock for the Yellowjackets both on and off the court. In the GNAC, Hanson is fourth in scoring with 16.7 points and third in rebounds at 7.2 per game. She is ninth in field goal percentage at 49.3 percent and fifth from the free-throw line at 85.9 percent (140-163). Hanson is also ranked fifth in blocked shots with 1.0 per game and is ninth in minutes played at an average 32.7 per contest.

Last week, Hanson completed two of her best back-to-back performances as a Yellowjacket. She had 18 point and six rebounds in the game against No. 17 Western Washington, shooting 46.2 percent from the field, was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line with two steals, an assist and two steals. For the game against the Vikings, Hanson was on the floor for a season-high 38 minutes, following that up with 37 minutes on the court on Saturday against No. 25 Simon Fraser.

In the game against the Clan, Hanson poured in a career-high 29 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the floor (60.0 percent), completing a double-double with 12 rebounds. She shot 10-for-11 from the free-throw line with two assists, a block, and steal. For the week, Hanson recorded 47 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks.

In two seasons with the Yellowjackets, Hanson has amassed 604 points and 273 rebounds. She has 40 blocks, 32 steals, and 59 assists. For her performances from the free-throw line, Hanson is already in the MSUB record books for last season’s finish at 86.6 percent. For her work this year, Hanson will be added to the Yellowjacket season’s top-10 in free-throw percentage and attempts. She will also be eligible for career free-throw line percentage having completed two seasons of competition at MSUB and has the potential to be in the top-2 in that category carrying a career 86.1 shooting percentage heading into the week, just behind No. 1 Alira Carpenter at 86.2 percent.

Hanson carries a 4.0 cumulative grade point average while majoring in elementary education at MSUB. This year Hanson became just the seventh woman in Yellowjacket women’s basketball program history to be named a CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 honoree. She was one of five selections from the west region and with the award has moved on to the Academic All-American ballot with the honorees to be announced Mar. 1.

FLOOR GENERAL: Junior point guard Rylee Kane is averaging double-figures with 11.4 points per game and a conference third-best and 28th in the nation at 5.2 assists per game. In the GNAC, she is ninth in steals with 1.8 per game and fifth in assist-turnover ratio at 1.8. Kane is also averaging the second-highest minutes on the court for a GNAC women’s basketball player with 34.9 per game. Last week, Kane had 16 points and nine assists. She was credited with the full 40 minutes on the court against No. 17 Western Washington, finishing with five assists and three steals.

In the career books, Kane is entering the week with 676 points, 253 rebounds, and 370 assists. Her assist total places Kane at sixth all-time at MSUB behind 399 from No. 5 Shiloh Schwab.

CONSISTENT VAN ATTA: Marissa Van Atta recorded 15 points, five rebounds, and four steals for MSUB last week. She comes into the week averaging 9.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The junior was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and had five assists. Van Atta has amassed 526 points, 278 rebounds, and 92 steals for the ‘Jackets.

STARTING ROLE: Lexi Prevost provided a big 15 points and three rebounds last week for MSUB against No. 17 Western Washington. The 15 points matches a career-high for the junior from Sidney, Mont. Part of that success was making a new career-high four 3-pointers. Prevost leads the team and is 10th in the GNAC in 3-pointers made per game with 1.3 and has amassed 34 total this season. Junior Grace Weeks earned a career-high 17 points in the game against No. 25 Simon Fraser. The junior shot 8-for-15 from the field and had a 3-pointer. Weeks is now averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. She is second on the team and 24th in the GNAC in field goal percentage at 41.1 percent.

MSUB RESERVES: Sophomore Brina Hull had four points and seven rebounds for MSUB, shooting 1-for-4 against WWU. Taylor Cunningham and Jeanann Lemelin both two points for the ‘Jackets.

BY THE NUMBERS: MSUB is averaging 59.7 points per game on 37.9 percent shooting. The team is 27.6 percent from outside with 30.2 rebounds per game. The Yellowjackets lead the GNAC and are 38th in Division II in team turnovers with an average 14 per game.

Thursday, Feb. 25 – vs Central Washington University Wildcats – 7:00 p.m.
Billings, MT | Live Stats | Live Video | Listen
2016-17 Record: 12-14, 7-11 GNAC
Head Coach: Jeff Harada, 3rd season
Last Meeting: (MSUB 65, CWU 62, Dec. 3)

Central Washington enters the week in a tie for seventh place in the league standings. The Wildcats are still in the running for a playoff spot in the GNAC tournament, but will need to win both of their conference games this week, starting with NNU on Tuesday. If CWU wins at home against the Crusaders, the Wildcats could advance to the postseason with a win over MSUB on Thursday.

A key to the CWU offense this season has been DI South Utah transfer Taylor Baird. The 6-foot-2 junior forward leads the conference in rebounds per game at 8.6 and is ninth in scoring with 12.9 points per game. She is shooting 50.7 percent from the field and is third in the GNAC in blocked shots with 1.2 per game.

Point guard Jasmin Edwards is fourth in the GNAC in assists with 5.1 per game while averaging 10.4 points and 1.4 steals. Edwards leads the GNAC in minutes played with an average 37.0 per game.

Central Washington’s defense is limiting opponents to a conference fourth-best 61.9 points per game. The Wildcats are third in the league in rebounding margin at +4.7.

All-Time Record (22-10, 10-3 Home): The Yellowjackets have won the last eight of 10 contests against the Wildcats. In 13 contests at Alterowitz against CWU, MSUB has lost just three games.

This Season: This season, the Yellowjackets held on in the fourth quarter for MSUB’s first conference win of the year. The game in Ellensburg was a competitive game through all four quarters. CWU was without all-GNAC starting point guard Jasmin Edwards. In the win, the ‘Jackets kept their turnovers under double-digits and spread the scoring out from inside to the arc.

Saturday, Feb. 25 – vs Northwest Nazarene University Crusaders – 7 p.m. – Senior Night
Billings, MT | Live Stats | Live Video
2016-17 Record: 11-13, 9-9 GNAC
Head Coach: Steve Steele, 1st season
Last Meeting: (NNU 78, NNU 60, Dec. 1)

Northwest Nazarene enters the final week of the regular season in a 3-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings. The Crusaders are on a 3-game win streak and will be looking to keep the streak alive as NNU plays for a spot in the GNAC tournament.

Northwest Nazarene is second in the league as a scoring offense with 78.6 points per game. The Crusaders are third in the GNAC in field goal percentage at 45.1 percent and are third from the 3-point arc at 34.6 percent.

NNU has a balanced offense attack with four players in the GNAC’s top-30. Ellie Logan is averaging 11.9 points per game followed by Lexi Tubbs with 10.6. Tubbs is 15th in the GNAC in rebounds at 5.3 per game. Kate Cryderman leads the Crusaders in shooting percentage at 49.0 percent followed by Logan at 48.5 percent. Kaitlyn Merritt is 11th in the league in assists with 3.2 per game.

All-Time Record (17-10, 10-1 Home): The Yellowjackets are ahead 10-1 on their home court against the Crusaders. The sole loss in Billings was on Feb. 20 2010, 85-47.

This Season: In Nampa, MSUB led after the first quarter 17-14. The Crusaders came roaring back in the middle two quarters, including a 13-point differential in the third quarter to take a big lead into the last 10 minutes. For the game, NNU shot 47.1 percent, scoring a big 44 points in the paint and recording 29 points off of 20 MSUB turnovers.