(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

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

BILLINGS – Senior Tiana Hanson finished the MSUB women’s basketball leader in career free-throw percentage on Senior Night as the Yellowjackets fell in their final Great Northwest Athletic Conference game of the season 63-53 Saturday at Alterowitz.

On her last night in a Yellowjacket uniform, Hanson shot 12-for-13 from the free-throw line, taking her career total to 228-for-263 and 86.7 percent. That sends Hanson ahead of MSUB’s Alira Carpenter at 86.2 percent and is also fourth all-time in the GNAC.

Hanson was 4-for-4 from the field in the first half and 7-for-7 from the line. The 6-foot forward from Shepherd, Mont., ended the night with a game-high 25 points, adding in three rebounds and two blocks.

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“Tiana was fabulous once again,” MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said. “I am so proud of how much she improved this season. Her hard work in the off-season definitely paid off. For her to now be the new all-time free-throw percentage leader in program history is also very impressive. I feel so fortunate to have coached her the past two years.”

“I liked our intensity in the first half, especially on the defensive end,” Woodin continued. “I did feel we came out flat in the third quarter, but we started to rally late in the period. We kept fighting until the end, but we just couldn’t catch them. Both teams played hard, but in the end they just made more plays than us. I give credit to NNU for earning the victory.”

At the half, MSU Billings (8-20, 5-15 GNAC) and Northwest Nazarene (12-14, 10-10 GNAC) were tied at 27. Hanson broke the scoring open with a driving layup, giving the ‘Jackets the early lead. Lexi Prevost made a 3-pointer off a dish from Brina Hull and Marissa Van Atta earned a layup to keep MSUB ahead. A 3-point play from Hanson in the middle of the second quarter pushed the Yellowjacket lead to three, 18-15. Free-throws from the ‘Jackets looked to give MSUB the lead at the break, but NNU’s Lexi Tubbs finished a 3-pointer on an assist from Kaitlyn Merritt to keep the score locked at 27.

In the third quarter, the Crusaders broke away on a 15-5 scoring drive to take a double-digit, 42-32, lead on a layup from McKenna Walker. Prevost added a point at the free-throw line and Rylee Kane a driving layup to drop the deficit down to seven. Tubbs finished the quarter on a layup to send the NNU lead to 44-35.

MSUB made one more offensive scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Hanson drained a 3-pointer on a straight pass from Kane followed by a layup from Prevost to cut the gap to six, 48-42. Kane had a free-throw to keep the margin under 10 points. MSUB traded points for the last five minutes of the game, but couldn’t whittle the lead down as NNU matched baskets to end the game on a 10-point win.

Kane finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Prevost ended with eight points and a steal. Van Atta had four points and four rebounds.

“Rylee played a strong second half tonight,” Woodin commented. “She took the ball to the basket aggressively and finished much better. I felt we played hard tonight, but we just didn’t make enough open shots to win.”

In the first quarter, the ‘Jackets shot 45.5 percent, but a slow third quarter had the ‘Jackets ending the night at 34.0 percent. NNU outrebounded the ‘Jackets 35-34, but MSUB had more offensive rebounds 10-7. MSUB committed 22 turnovers that NNU converted to 19 points. NNU had 15 turnovers, but the ‘Jackets were more efficient with 15 points on 15 Crusaders miscues.

Tubs and Ellie Logan led the Crusaders with 12 points each. Tubbs added a team-high seven rebounds and two steals. NNU ended the game with 13 teams steals led by four from Carly Parker. Ten players from Northwest Nazarene recorded either points or rebounds in the game. NNU shot 34.5 percent from the field and were 21-for-25 from the free-throw line.

MSUIB was 19-for-25 from the free-throw line and 2-for-15 from the 3-point arc. NNU finished 4-for21 from outside.

“It was a difficult season in terms of wins and losses,” Woodin said. “Our players fought hard through a lot of adversity and I am proud of their efforts. In addition, I am so thankful for all of the hard work and dedication that senior student assistant Alyssa provided our program the past two years. She was a tremendous asset to us. Thanks to everyone who supported our team this year.”

THE BUZZ: Hanson ends her career at MSUB with 657 points, 287 rebounds, and 59 assists. She shot 47.8 percent from the field in her career, had 36 steals, and 47 blocks.