SAN DIEGO, Cali. – In a dramatic start to the 2019-20 season, the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball survives overtime to claim victory over Fresno Pacific University.
MSUB (1-0, 0-0 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) outscored Fresno Pacific University (0-1, 0-0 Pac-West Conference) in the critical overtime period 10-6.
FIRST HALF BREAKDOWN
Trailing most of the first half, MSUB was never down more than eight. FPU’s largest lead was at 29-21 with six minutes and 30 seconds left in the half. Forced to battle back, the Yellowjackets slowly chipped away to find themselves trailing 37-38 at half time.
SECOND HALF BREAKDOWN
Much the same story for the second half as MSUB tied the game at 64-64 after a steal and lay-up from Tyler Green with one minute remaining. With 4.9 seconds left, Green pulled up and cashed in a 3-point shot to give MSUB their first lead of the game 67-64.
With only seconds to act, FPU had time to draw up one last desperation play. Needing three points to tie, Raine Mckeython pulled up from the top of the three point arc and hit an unbelievable shot in addition to being fouled with .3 seconds left to tie the game at 67 apiece.
With the game on the line, Mckeython missed what would have been the game winning free throw attempt and the two squads were heading to overtime.
The Sunbirds made the first two baskets to go up by four, 71-67 and again MSUB fought back to tie 71-71 with 2:41 left on the clock after a lay-up by Clarence Daniels.
The Yellowjackets then clamped down on defense led by Psalm Maduakor who had two massive blocks in the critical extra period. With the old adage of good offense starts with good defense, MSUB was able to capitalize on their defensive effort to score six points while holding the Sunbirds to just two in the final two minutes.
Putting away the game from the free throw line, Brendan Howard and Green combined to hit three of four attempts and MSUB escaped early season drama with a 77-73 win.
“This was a good team win and a crazy ending to regulation,” said head coach Mick Durham. “You don’t worry about the time and score situations until you have been in those situations. We made big plays on both ends of the floor tonight as well. I am proud of our guys from fighting through adversity. We were behind most of the game including being down four in OT, but found a way to keep it close.”
Breaking in a new starting line-up MSUB was led by Howard who finished with a game high 22 points while Green added 16 points and six assists.
New comers Maduakor and Daniels both received their first starts of the young season and both produced positive results. Daniels had 15 points to go with seven rebounds. Maduakor recorded a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. He also had a game high three blocks and led all players with 42 minutes played.
Jordan Lehrer contributed 10 rebounds to aid in MSUB out rebounded the Sunbirds 51-40. The Yellowjackets had 11 assists and 16 turnovers while the Sunbirds had 11 assists and committed 17 turn overs.
MSUB shot 42.0 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc. FPU shot 40.0 percent and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. The Sunbird bench produced 28 points and the MSUB bench managed 10. The Yellowjackets had more led in fast break pints 21-9.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Yellowjackets play host Point Loma Nazarene tomorrow at 8:30pm MST. Point Loma was one of the very best teams in the nation finishing as runners-up in the national championship game.
THE BUZZ: Psalm Maduakor was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for the Yellowjackets…Maduakor recorded 11 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double this season.