(MSU Billings release)
ORANGE, Calif. – After fighting back to a 3-point deficit in the first quarter, No. 1 Drury University pulled away from the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets 78-55 Sunday morning in the final game of the CCA Division II Tip-Off Classic at Santiago College Gymnasium. The Panthers played a suffocating full court press and forced the ‘Jackets to commit 26 turnovers in the contest.
Drury dominated the second quarter with a 21-8 scoring margin. The ‘Jackets shot just 1-for-8 from the field over the 10-minute stretch and failed to make up the difference, despite a good fourth quarter in which they outscored Drury 19-16.
The Panthers balanced their attack with three players in double figures. Paige Robinson paced DU with 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting and a pair of 3-pointers. Emily Parker chipped in 12 points and Kelsey Winfrey had 11. Hannah Collins, who, despite three first half fouls managed 11 points and a pair of rebounds, led the Yellowjackets. Taryn Shelley followed her double-double performance Saturday with 10 points and six rebounds.
“Drury is a very talented team that is so deep and guards you the entire court for the whole game,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “Despite committing a few more turnovers than we wanted, I felt we did a lot of good things against the press. I liked how we played early and we got some good looks on offense because we attacked the basket against their pressure. We also got to the free throw line more frequently, which was something Coach Breen emphasized to our team.”
The ‘Jackets did not lead at any point in the game after the Panters took a quick 10-2 run to open the game’s first six minutes. A 3-pointer by Shelley and a jumper by Emily St. John helped the ‘Jackets get back to within one possession at the end of the first 10 minutes, but a 14-3 first half turnover advantage by Drury helped put the ‘Jackets down 42-26 by halftime. The Panthers furthered their advantage early in the second half after MSUB shooters opened 0-for-4 from the field.
“We played probably the most complete game of the season today, but we couldn’t quite get it back to a single digit margin,” Woodin said. “A lot of players got into the game and I felt it was good experience for all of them. We definitely have the desire to be really good, but it’s going to take some time continuing to work on combinations. I think the opportunity we had this weekend to play three very tough teams will benefit us moving forward.”
Drury shot 41-percent from the floor (27-for-66) with four 3-point makes. The Panthers also nabbed 42 rebounds including 20 on the offensive glass. The Yellowjackets shot a nearly identical percentage in both halves and finished at 35-percent (17-for-48). MSUB also made four 3-pointers on 18 attempts (22-percent) and took in 32 rebounds (nine offensive).
Shayla Montague made the biggest contribution off the bench with eight points for MSUB. Jessica Harvey (seven points) and Danielle Zahn (two points) also registered bench points on the scoresheet. Drury outscored the ‘Jackets 34-18 in the paint, with 20 points off turnovers compared to 12. DU led by as many as 28 at the 2-minute mark of the third quarter. Six players combined for 33 Drury University bench points. Winfrey went 6-for-6 from the line to help the Panthers to a 74-percent free throw percentage with 20 total makes.
UP NEXT: The Yellowjackets (0-3) return to Billings Wednesday, November 6 to play rival Rocky Mountain College in an exhibition contest at First Interstate Arena at 7 p.m. The team begins Great Northwest Athletic Conference play December 5 at Simon Fraser University.
THE BUZZ: Shayla Montague was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game after recording eight points. The freshman was also a major contributor in the ‘Jackets loss to Cal Poly Pomona Saturday…MSUB last played a No. 1 ranked team in 2014-15. The ‘Jackets fell 74-64 to Alaska Anchorage.