(Editor's note: MSUB athletics release)
The Montana State University Billings Yellowjacket men's basketball team (14-5) closes out the first half of conference play with an 81-75 victory over the Seattle Pacific Falcons (11-11). This improves the Yellowjackets conference record to 8-1 to stay tied for first place in the GNAC.
Jalen Tot had another monumental night scoring 27 points while shooting over 66% from the field and 100% from beyond the arc. Tot also tallied five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Behind Tot was Steven Richardson who tied his season high with 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting with some crucial buckets late to help close out the game.
Zharon Richmond also came alive late in the game, scoring all 11 points in the second half when the Jackets needed it the most.
Despite the Yellowjackets shooting just over 50% from the free-throw line they excelled in the turnover battle. The Jackets forced 17 turnovers on defense and were able to capitalize scoring 20 points off those turnovers alone. MSUB also moved the ball well with 16 team assists and had seven players with at least six points.
The packed crowd of Alterowitz gym had a familiar sight that they'd seen all season, Jalen Tot leading the way and getting the Jackets on the board early with back-to-back-to-back buckets on the first three possessions. Even with the hot start the Falcons didn't fall behind, matching every point the Yellowjackets put on the board.
By the 14-minute mark the Falcons had continued their tear by going on an 8-0 run to pull ahead 15-7. MSUB was showing some promising offense with Famous Lefthand making his return to the court but with the Falcons shooting over 60% at this point in the game they proved hard to keep up with.
The SPU momentum became nonexistent after another Tot three-pointer which started a 14-0 run for the Yellowjackets and helped lead them into the half with a 38-26 lead.
Senior forward Zharon Richmond got on the board scoring the Yellowjackets first points of the half with a jumper beyond the arch, followed by a Ky Kouba layup to keep their 12-point lead intact. The next six minutes were back and forth with the Jackets holding their consistent lead.
With both teams shooting above 40% and a difference of just two rebounds, it was turnovers that were the difference in the game with MSUB winning the battle 10 to 3 at this point in the game.
With just under two minutes to go in the game the Falcons were able to bring their deficit within seven, their smallest of the half. Despite missing some late free throws, the Yellowjackets were able to capitalize on some late turnovers by the Falcons and come out with the victory.