(MSU Billings release)
HONOLULU, Haw. – Making 11 of 19 shots including 6 of 7 threes in the first quarter Sunday morning at St. Francis High School, Harding University’s women’s basketball team built a 22-point lead and Montana State University Billings never recovered in an 87-72 loss for the Yellowjackets on Day 2 of the Oahu Christmas Classic.
The Yellowjackets (9-2) cut the deficit to as little as five points with 6:53 left in the game, but ran out of gas as a valiant comeback attempt fell short.
Overall Harding (5-7) made 10 of 16 threes in the game (62.5 percent) and shot 26-for-58 overall (44.8 percent). The Bisons were led by Sydney Layrock, who had 26 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes thanks to 4-for-4 accuracy from long range.
Lexi Prevost and Rylee Kane led MSUB with 14 points apiece, but the ‘Jackets shot just 32.4 percent from 3-point range (11-for-34) and 33.8 percent from the field. Harding’s dominant 53-31 edge in rebounding was MSUB’s largest deficit of the season, and the Bisons had 18 of their rebounds in the opening quarter alone.
“I give all the credit to Harding, and they came out competing on all cylinders,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “They got us on our heels in the first quarter, and we spent a lot of energy getting back into the game so I was proud of that. They shot the three tremendously today, and they pounded us on the glass which hurt us. Offensively we shot the three pretty well, but we missed too many baskets overall.”
Layrock and Caroline Hogue were each in double figures by the end of the first period with 12 and 10 points, respectively, helping their team to a 33-11 advantage. Hogue finished the game with 20 points and a team-high four assists, while also grabbing six rebounds.
The Bisons went scoreless over the first four minutes of the second period, while the ‘Jackets constructed an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 33-18. Janessa Williams provided a defensive spark off the bench during the run, and Alisha Breen hit her first three of the game. By halftime, the ‘Jackets were within reach down 44-31, and kept battling to open the third quarter.
Kane came through with a three-point play with 7:15 to go in the third, pulling the ‘Jackets within single digits down 50-42. Breen’s second three of the game came three minutes later and lowered the spread to seven points, but Kennedy Cooper answered with a trey that kicked off an 8-2 push to keep Harding ahead comfortably.
With the ‘Jackets trailing by nine entering the fourth quarter, Vanessa Stavish scored four straight points to make it a two-possession ballgame. MSUB shot just 1-for-4 from the field over the following five minutes however, and by the time Prevost hit a three with 3:34 to go the Bisons were in control for good up by 13.
Breen finished with 12 points, four assists, three rebounds, and a pair of steals for the ‘Jackets, and Stavish was also in double figures with a dozen points while leading the team with a career-high eight rebounds.
MSUB protected the ball well with just 11 turnovers, while Harding committed 19 in the game. Peyton Padgett led the Bisons with nine rebounds, and Amanda Kearney was also in double figures with 11 points.
“Playing a tough schedule over here is going to help us out overall on the season,” Woodin said. “We will enjoy our day off tomorrow, and be prepared to play a really good Hawaii Pacific team on Tuesday.”
THE BUZZ: Lexi Prevost was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…Sunday’s game was the first-ever meeting between Harding and MSUB…the 33 points allowed in the first were the second-most MSUB has allowed in a quarter since periods moved from halves to quarters prior to the 2015-16 season…the most points MSUB has allowed in a quarter was 35 by Seattle Pacific in the first quarter of a 98-57 loss on Feb. 4, 2017.
AHEAD: The ‘Jackets have Monday off, and will finish their Hawaii trip with an 8 a.m. tipoff against Hawaii Pacific University on Tuesday morning.