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Montana State Billings women pull away, advance to GNAC championship game

Posted at 8:12 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-04 00:53:22-05

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Caught in a first-half battle Friday night, the Montana State Billings women pulled away in the second half to claim a 75-62 victory over Central Washington in the semifinal round of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament at Carver Gym.

With the win, the No. 2 seeded Yellowjackets (24-6) advanced to the tourney title game against Western Washington, which will be played Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time.

MSUB and No. 3 CWU went into halftime tied 29-29, but the Jackets outscored the Wildcats 46-33 in the third and fourth quarters combined while shooting 53% in the second half.

"We came out with the right mentality in the second half," MSUB coach Kevin Woodin stated in a press release. "We got out to a little bit of a lead, and then didn’t let up. I thought we guarded very well as a team, and in the second half limited them to one shot a lot, which was key."

Fort Benton alum Aspen Giese led four MSUB players in double figures with 20 points. Giese also had a team-high eight rebounds. Taryn Shelley added 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and also hit three 3-pointers.

Hamilton grad Cariann Kunkel and Scobey product Kortney Nelson each had 10 points for the Jackets. Billings West grad Shayla Montague had nine points and played a team-high 38 minutes.

Valerie Huerta scored 19 points to lead Central Washington (21-8). Samantha Bowman added 18 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Asher Cai also had 18 points for the Wildcats.