(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

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

LACEY, Wash. – For the second game in a row against Western Oregon University, cold shooting cost the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team as the Yellowjackets bowed out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships with a 71-62 loss Thursday night at Marcus Pavilion on the campus of Saint Martin’s University.

The Yellowjackets finished their season 14-15 with the loss, after grabbing the No. 6 seed into the tournament with a league record of 9-11. MSUB shot just 35.5 percent from the floor (22-for-62), and made 4 of 20 shots from 3-point range.

“I am proud of the guys, and all year they played extremely hard,” said sixth-year MSUB head coach Jamie Stevens. “That’s all we asked them to do, and they are a great group to be around.”

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Western Oregon (17-12), the No. 3 seed, advances to a semifinal matchup against the University of Alaska Anchorage on Friday night. The Wolves were led by a 22-point, 11-rebounds double-double from senior Tanner Omlid, who also had four steals and an assist in 32 minutes.

Junior Kamal Tall played one of his best games of the season, scoring 16 points and adding six rebounds, a block, and just one turnover in 30 minutes. In their final career game as Yellowjackets, seniors Marc Matthews (14 points) and Jace Anderson (13 points) were also in double figures.

With 18 seconds left in his career, Matthews hit his 222nd and final three, tying him with Danny Phillips for sixth-most 3-pointers in program history. The final shot also bumped him into the top-10 in Yellowjacket history in scoring, as he wrapped up his career with 1,280 points. “Marc had a great career, and he is a guy who was fun to watch,” Stevens said. “We brought him and Jace in together five years ago, and I’m really proud of both of those guys. They were good pillars for the program, and hopefully we can build off their legacy.”

MSUB Men’s Basketball All-Time Scoring Leaders
Rank    Name    Points
1. Roy McPipe 1883
2. Cameron Munoz 1879
3. Les Heins 1726
4. Jim Soft 1558
5. Bart Bauer 1547
6. Markus Hallgrimson 1470
7. Titus Warmsley 1467
8. Mark Hamilton 1463
9. Reece Gliko 1388
10. Marc Matthews 1280
11. Buddy Windy Boy 1278

Matthews’ final trey was too late for the ‘Jackets however, as the Wolves pushed their lead into double-figures down the stretch. MSUB tied the score at 38-38 on a layup by Anderson with 16:03 left to play, but the ‘Jackets never got over the hump as WOU maintained its lead the entire second half. A four-minute scoring drought after Anderson’s layup made the deficit eight, as Ali Faruq-Bey made a bucket with 12:17 to go to give his team a 46-38 edge.

Faruq-Bey racked up 15 points in the game, and had four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. He and Omlid were the Wolves who had multiple steals in the game, as MSUB coughed up the ball 16 times resulting in 12 points off turnovers for Western Oregon.

WOU built its lead back to 10 points over the next eight minutes, a layup by Evan Garrison with 4:04 to go making the score 61-51 and all but sealing the win for WOU. Garrison finished with 15 points, making 6 of 11 shots from the field.

“We just didn’t make enough shots tonight, and if you look at the last 13 games I think we are shooting below 40 percent,” Stevens said. “It’s hard to win college games shooting at that level, but I was proud of how hard the guys played.”

The cold shooting night came after a 72-56 loss at Western Oregon in the regular-season finale last Saturday, in which MSUB shot just 31.5 percent (17-for-54) and made 3 of 21 threes.

The Yellowjackets outrebounded the Wolves 42-39 Thursday, thanks to a team-high nine boards from Matthews. Tall, Sven Jeuschede, and Kendall Denham had six rebounds apiece, and Beverly and Jordan Perry each had four. Anderson finished his career by hitting 6 of 10 shots, and tying Denham for the team-high with three assists.

“Jace is awesome, and he started 29 of 29 games this year after tearing his ACL last January,” Stevens commented on the senior. “He’s a great person, and hopefully I’m a better coach for being around that guy.”

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