(Press release from MSUB Athletic Department)
SEATTLE – A cold shooting night and low scoring second half proved costly for Montana State University Billings Thursday night at Brougham Pavilion, as No. 25 Seattle Pacific University picked up a 70-61 Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory.
The Yellowjackets (9-4, 2-1 GNAC) lost their fourth straight game, despite a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double by senior Alisha Breen. The team made just 1 of 12 threes in the second half, and a 40-39 halftime deficit turned into a 55-49 hole by the end of the third quarter.
MSUB had a chance when it was down 62-55 with 5:08 left in the game, but neither team scored over the next four minutes and by then the ‘Jackets began to run out of time.
“Give credit to SPU, as they defended well in the second half,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We had a lot of open looks from the 3-point line but didn’t make many. We needed a few of those open looks to fall. We hung in there and the game was manageable, but there were a couple possessions where we gave up too many offensive rebounds. I liked the pace of the game and we had enough field-goal attempts, but we need to shoot a better percentage.”
Overall MSUB shot 34.8 percent from the field (24-for-69) and 24.0 percent from long range (6-for-25).
SPU (8-2, 2-1) was led by a 19-point effort from Jordan McPhee, and she had six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a pair of blocks. Julia Haining had 13 points and eight boards, and Courtney Hollander led all players with 11 caroms. The Falcons held a 49-40 edge in rebounding, including a mark of 17-12 in offensive rebounds which accounted for 16 second-chance points.
“They’re a very good team because of their balance,” Woodin commented on the Falcons. “They are senior laden and have a lot of experience. In order to beat them on their home court, you have to out-execute them down the stretch. We weren’t able to do that and ultimately that’s why we lost.”
The ‘Jackets constructed an 8-2 run to open the second quarter, prompting a timeout by SPU head coach Julie Heisey after taking a 28-26 lead. The game remained tight the rest of the half, and a three by Hailee Bennett with 54 seconds left helped SPU retake the lead that it extended after the break.
Rylee Kane finished with 15 points for MSUB, and Vanessa Stavish had eight points and eight rebounds. Breen had 20 points by halftime, after hitting 8 of 11 shots from the floor.
“Alisha played extremely well,” Woodin said. “In the first half she was in a zone and was able to make shots in a lot of different places on the court. She was also effective on the defensive glass for us tonight.”
Freshman Hannah Collins was effective off the bench for MSUB, contributing six points, two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. “Hannah gave us some very good minutes, especially in the second half,” said Woodin. “I look for her to build off this performance.”
THE BUZZ: Breen was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…the start was the first of Lemelin’s career…MSUB is now 20-30 all-time against SPU and is 5-21 in road games…the ‘Jackets lost their fourth in-a-row against SPU…MSUB was without Taylor Cunningham, who had started all 12 games entering the night, due to illness…Stavish matched her career high with eight rebounds…Thursday was MSUB’s second game against a top-25 team in the last four games.
COMING UP: Conference play continues Saturday evening, when the ‘Jackets face Saint Martin’s University at Marcus Pavilion in Lacey, Wash. Tipoff against the Saints is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Mountain time, and live video and live statistics will be available online through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.