(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Ten different Montana State University Billings women’s basketball players scored on Saturday night, as the Yellowjackets controlled the pace of play from start-to-finish in an 87-65 triumph over the University of Providence on EMC Throwback Night at Alterowitz Gym.
Senior Alisha Breen led all players with 26 points, and broke the MSUB career free-throw record with the 393rd make of her career in the second quarter. It was one of six foul shots Breen made in seven tries on the night, and she also shot 9-for-12 from the field including 2-for-4 from long range.
Providence’s only lead was 2-0 when Parker Esary made the first layup of the game, but the ‘Jackets took control immediately and built a 10-point advantage by late in the first quarter. That translated to a 41-30 halftime edge, and a 27-14 third quarter in favor of MSUB put the game out of reach.
“This was a pretty complete game for us, and we competed well on both ends,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We got some offense through our defense and vice versa, and we started the third quarter well. Overall offensively we passed the ball well and shot the ball a lot better than we did last night.”
The Yellowjackets continued the perfect start to their season, moving to 9-0 overall. The winning streak is tied for sixth longest in school history, and matches the longest since the program won nine straight games from Dec. 6, 2006-Jan. 7, 2007. “We have a really deep team, and one of our biggest strengths is our bench,” Woodin said. “The bench has been good all year, and those players know their job is to go in there and compete. We are still trying a lot of different lineups, and we feel like we have a lot of versatility.”
Esary led Providence with 19 points and six rebounds, while Jenna Randich had 18 points and Stephanie McDonagh had a dozen. The Argos’ record remained at 10-2 on the season, as Saturday’s game was an exhibition contest for the visiting team.
Perhaps the most thrilling moment of the night was the final play of the opening half, when sophomore Taylor Edwards drained a 40-foot, mid-court shot to beat the buzzer.
Junior Vanessa Stavish was one away from her career high in the game, finishing with 17 points while making 4 of 5 threes. Stavish had the hottest hand from the arc, on a night where the ‘Jackets hit at a clip of 42.9 percent from deep (12-for-28). “We came with a little fire in our gut tonight, and we let it out after we didn’t have a great start last night,” Stavish commented on Saturday’s win. “Tonight we really wanted to come out and show that we are a good defensive team, and I think we did that.”
Providence never got the deficit below double figures in the second half, and MSUB’s advantage peaked at 27 points when a jumper by Hannah Collins made the score 59-32 with 3:52 to go in the third. Collins finished the game with nine points and three rebounds in 16 solid minutes off the bench. That supplemented another stellar performance by senior point guard Rylee Kane, who had a season-high nine assists to go along with eight points and five boards.
Senior Lexi Prevost joined Stavish and Breen as the other Yellowjacket with multiple threes, as she connected twice from the arc and finished with eight points and five rebounds.
The ‘Jackets held a 31-22 edge in rebounding, and limited their turnovers to 12 while forcing 17 by the Argos. Breen and Prevost each had a pair of swipes to aid the ‘Jackets in scoring 25 points off of turnovers.
THE BUZZ: Stavish was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 10-12 all-time against the Argos and is 9-4 in games played at Alterowitz Gym…Breen has now scored 20 or more points in four straight games, the longest such stretch of her career…Breen broke into the GNAC top-20 career scoring leaders, pushing her total to 1,411 which ranks 19th in conference history.
COMING UP: A major road test awaits the ‘Jackets next week, with three NCAA Division II games on the schedule in Hawaii. MSUB will begin the Oahu Christmas Classic next Saturday against No. 7 Drury University, before playing Harding University the next day and Hawaii Pacific University on Tuesday, Dec. 19.