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Big first quarter vaults MSU Billings women past Azusa Pacific in NCAA Division II tournament

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Posted at 10:52 PM, Mar 16, 2024

AZUSA, Calif. — MSU Billings made five 3-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 66-56 win over No. 1-seeded Azusa Pacific in the second round of the NCAA Division II women's basketball championship Saturday at the Felix Event Center.

MSUB's Aspen Giese, Kortney Nelson, Dani Zahn and Natalie Andreas each made 3s in the first quarter, with Zahn making back-to-back triples that gave the No. 4 seed Yellowjackets a 14-3 lead midway through the period. Andreas' 3 pushed the lead to 17-3, and the Jackets ultimately led 21-5 at the end of the first.

Azusa Pacific bounced back in the second quarter to trim MSUB's lead to 30-21 at halftime and got within 35-33 late in the third quarter. But the Jackets responded with an 8-0 burst to get the lead back to double digits, 43-33.

APU put together one final rally in the fourth quarter, with a Molly Whitmore layup making MSUB's lead just 54-50 with 2:20 to play. Jacket Dyauni Boyce scored the game's next seven points, though, and MSUB would secure the win to advance to the third round of the tournament.

Boyce scored 21 points and collected 10 rebounds for MSU Billings. Giese had 11 points and five rebounds, and Nelson added nine points and nine rebounds. Zahn, Kola Bad Bear and Shayla Montague each scored six points.

MSUB was 20-of-54 shooting in the game but made 10 of 25 3-pointers and 16 of 18 free throws. APU, meanwhile, was 24 of 63 from the floor, 4 of 22 from 3-point range and 4 of 6 at the foul line.

Azusa Pacific was led by Paige Uyehara with 21 points.

MSU Billings will next play California State San Marcos on Monday in the third round of the NCAA Division II tournament.