(MSU Billings release)

BILLINGS – An eight-point halftime lead for Montana State University Billings evaporated quickly on Saturday night at Alterowitz Gym, as visiting Seattle Pacific University produced a dominant 28-5 third quarter and topped the Yellowjackets 66-50 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball action.

The Yellowjackets shot just 16.7 percent over the final 20 minutes (5-for-30), including a mark of 1-for-10 from the 3-point MSUB also made just 6 of 13 second-half free throws, and totaled only 17 points in its lowest-scoring half of the season. “They are a very good team and deserved to win, as we just didn’t play well in the third quarter,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We played a good first half, but it just didn’t go our way.”

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Meanwhile, Seattle Pacific shot 46.9 percent in the second half, and knocked down 6 of 13 threes. A jumper by Rachel Koehler made the score 36-34 in favor of MSUB with 5:29 left in the third, but it was the last time the Yellowjackets led as it was their only field goal of the period. SPU had a 15-point lead by the end of the third, and the ‘Jackets never recovered.

Courtney Hollander led all players with 18 points, and had half of SPU’s eight threes on the night. Erica Pagano had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Jordan McPhee had 11 points and eight boards. SPU remained in second place in the GNAC standings with the win, improving to 16-3 overall and 10-2 in conference play.

Alisha Breen and Rylee Kane tied for the team high in scoring for the ‘Jackets, with 13 points apiece. Breen and Vanessa Stavish led the squad with seven rebounds each, and the Yellowjackets out-boarded the Falcons 43-41 on the night. MSUB snapped a four-game winning streak, moving to 15-7 overall and staying in fourth place in the GNAC standings at 8-4 in league play.

The game got off to an even start, with the teams trading the lead multiple times in the opening quarter. SPU emerged with a narrow 14-12 edge after 10 minutes, but the Yellowjackets kept it at a one-possession game. Stavish’s lone three of the night was backed up by a trey from Kane, as the ‘Jackets took their first lead of the night at 20-14 midway through the second.

The ‘Jackets never relinquished the lead the rest of the half, and a three-point play by Breen combined with a bucket by Taylor Cunningham made the spread 27-22 with 2:23 left. Breen began finding her groove at the end of the half, with seven points in the final three minutes of action.

The tables turned immediately following halftime however, as the Falcons ripped off their big run with no answer from the ‘Jackets. SPU completed the season sweep of MSUB, after claiming a 70-61 win in Seattle on Dec. 28, 2017.

Overall in the game MSUB shot 30.0 percent (18-for-60), and went just 4-for-22 from 3-point range (18.2 percent). MSUB committed 16 turnovers, which the Falcons converted into 18 points.

THE BUZZ: Kane was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 20-31 all-time against SPU and is 14-8 in home games…MSUB lost its fifth straight in the series against the Falcons…Breen moved to No. 8 in GNAC history with 1,647 career points…SPU limited MSUB to just 22 points in the second half of its win in Seattle.

COMING UP: MSUB is on the road for two weeks, facing four more tough GNAC opponents. The ‘Jackets play at No. 9 Alaska Anchorage on Feb. 1 at 9 p.m. Mountain time, and at Alaska on Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. Mountain time.

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