(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – After a tight first 20 minutes of action the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team (6-2, 0-2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) delivered a dominating second half performance in an 89-66 win over the Montana Tech Orediggers (5-5, 0-2 Frontier Conference) on Wednesday night.
“I thought Tech came out and played well, especially in the first half,” head coach Jamie Stevens said after the victory. “In the second half we found a lineup that worked well and we wore them down a little bit and we did a great job rebounding.”
The first half was up-and-down for the ‘Jackets as they had to quickly overcome a five point deficit after a strong start from Tech. Kendall Denham led the way while Tyler Green added seven points in seven minutes during the half. Facing an 11 point deficit with 6:35 left in the half, the Orediggers went on a 19-9 run to close out the period.
Denham had a perfect first half as he hit all four of his shots from deep to lead the ‘Jackets with 12 points at the break. Denham’s first miss came on a deep 3-point attempt as the shot clock was winding down. He finished the contest with 14 points and a career-high seven steals.
Carrying a one-point, 42-41 lead at the half, The Yellowjackets jumped out to a 10-point advantage thanks to an 11-2 run. Zack Rollins started the scoring with five quick points off of a layup and a three. The Orediggers never cut the lead to less-than six points for the remainder of the contest with MSUB shooting 51.7 percent from the field in the period and making all 10 of their free throws.
Sven Jeuschede recorded a career-high 20 points in the game while making 7 of 13 shots. The junior forward led the second half surge as he scored 16 points while adding an assists and a steal in the final period.
Up 11 with 8:17 remaining, the Yellowjackets used a massive 16-2 run to cushion their lead and cruise to victory. Zharon Richmond started the run by drawing a foul while finishing a layup and making his free throw. A Denham layup followed before Jeuschede went on a personal 8-0 run starting with a three off of a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Denham. Rollins sunk a 3-pointer and Kobe Terashima sunk a pair of free throws to give the ‘Jackets an insurmountable 27-point lead with 3:10 remaining on the clock.
Zack Lessinger played 19 minutes in the game as the sophomore-big shot a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and added a free throw to reach seven points. He finished the night with four rebounds, a block, a steal and an assists while seeing the most playing time of the season after returning from a foot injury.
Terashima played all 20 minutes in the second half and compiled four points, four assists and two steals in the period. The freshman guard has led the ‘Jackets in assists for the majority of the season and paced the ‘Jackets on Wednesday with six.
Adding to a stellar start to the season, Richmond delivered again for MSUB. The Billings native set a new season-high with 15 points while shooting 6-for-8 from the field. Rollins led the ‘Jackets in rebounding for the sixth time this season as he finished the contest with five boards while adding 16 points.
The ‘Jackets return to action on Friday as they host the University of Providence at 5:30 p.m. to kick-off the first of two doubleheaders this weekend. The MSUB women’s basketball team (7-0, 2-0 GNAC) will follow with a matchup against the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MSUB will host another doubleheader on Saturday as the women face Providence at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men taking on Rocky at 7:30 p.m.
You can follow all MSUB home games and all GNAC road contests via the MSUB Stretch Internet Portal.