(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS - The Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets defeated the Concordia University, Portland Cavaliers 80-70 Thursday night in Alterowitz. MSUB snaps a three game losing streak and stays alive in the race for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament.
The Yellowjackets (9-10, 4-7 GNAC) desperately needed a win to stay alive in the hunt for the post season. Playing with determination and resolve, MSUB staved off CU to get back in the win column and earn the season sweep over the Cavs.
The Cavs (2-18, 1-11 GNAC) shot out of the gates knocking down five three point shots in the first ten minutes of play. The Cavs opened up an eight point lead 22-14 after a three with 9:39 remaining for their biggest lead of the game.
Storming back with a 14-5 run, the ‘Jackets took their first lead 28-27 with 5:35 left in the first half. MSUB would surrender the lead just one more time, never loosening their grip again once they took it back.
A second half team most of the year, MSUB held the lead the entire second half. A three point shot from Brendan Howard gave MSUB their largest lead 68-54 with 5:47 left in regulation. Not giving up, CU tried to fight their way back in, but MSUB never let up on their way to the 80-70 win.
“It wasn’t easy tonight and credit Concordia for that,” said head coach Mick Durham. “We were able to get in a rhythm a couple times and made a switch to a zone which helped us gain separation. We had a couple guys fill up the stat line and took care of the ball. We need to get ready for WOU who is one of the better teams in the league”
Howard and Zharon Richmond combined for 52 points each ending with 26. Richmond had a game high 14 rebounds and shot 11-19 from the floor. Howard added seven rebounds and went 9-9 from the charity stripe.
“We defiantly needed this one,” said Richmond. “It feels like a fresh start now that we have played all the GNAC teams and hopefully it gets us on the right track to get to the tourney.”
Chrishon Dixon was the only other Yellowjacket to score in double figures with 10 points, six rebounds and a game high six assists. Tyler Green finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists. Psalm Maduakor added seven rebounds and six points to the winning effort.
Hunter Sweet lead the Cavs with 16 points, added nine rebounds and shot 4-9 from three point land. Russell Tillery and Caleb Larsen each finished with 11 points.
MSUB shot 40.3 percent from the field including 30.0 from three point range. CU finished at 37.5 percent on the floor and 38.5 from beyond the arc. Both teams took care of the ball with MSUB only turning it over five times and CU four.
Zharon Richmond was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game for his 26 points and game high14 rebounds.
The Yellowjackets take on Western Oregon University on Saturday February 1 at 7:00 p.m. in Alterowitz.
Meantime, Marina Valles posted 21 points and assisted Northwest Nazarene University to an 80-72 victory over Montana State University Billings in Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball Thursday night at Johnson Sports Center.
Valles continued to be a thorn in MSUB’s side this season after she shot 7-for-14 from the field and added seven rebounds for NNU. The Nighthawks pulled away late after the Yellowjackets held a narrow halftime lead and took advantage of 16 ‘Jacket turnovers.
“We lost a tough one tonight,” commented MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “I was proud of how we competed, but I also felt we let an opportunity to upset an elite team on the road slip away. We gave a determined effort, though our program is not interested in moral victories. We need to regroup quickly and get ready to play a very talented Central Washington team Saturday.’
The Yellowjackets (10-10, 5-6 GNAC) fell for the second straight time in conference action. They have nine regular season games left on the schedule. The top six teams qualify for the conference post-season tournament, hosted by Seattle Pacific University in March. The Nighthawks (15-5, 10-2) maintained second place in the GNAC standings after winning their fourth straight contest.
The Yellowjackets shot 47-percent in the opening quarter and got off to a quick start on the road. Lemelin carried over her record breaking shooting performance from the previous game and opened 2-for-2 from 3-point range and MSUB led 20-16 after 10 minutes of play. The ‘Jackets held a 37-34 advantage at halftime after trading baskets with the Nighthawks through the second quarter, but Valles and the Nighthawk offense rallied for 46 points in the second half.
“NNU is a great team and Valles hit some late big shots for them,” said Woodin. “We had a couple critical late turnovers and shot only 3-for-12 in the fourth quarter which proved costly. I thought we allowed them too many extra shots in the second half as well.”
Taryn Shelley led the ‘Jackets with 18 points (7-for-13) and seven rebounds. Taylor Cunningham marked a strong game with nine points and 10 rebounds. Avery Albrecht posted 14 points, seven rebounds for NNU and Erin Jenkins finished with 10 points.
The Nighthawks shot 44-percent (28-for-63) overall and 35.5-percent (11-for-31) from the three points arc. NNU also received 28 points from its bench and nabbed 12 steals with 37 rebounds. Conversely, the Yellowjackets connected on 43.5-percent of all shots taken (27-for-62) and hit 36-percent (9-for-25) of three point attempts.
The Yellowjackets led by as many as six midway through the first quarter and trailed their largest margin of eight at the conclusion of the game with 13 lead changes.
The Yellowjackets travel to Ellensburg, Washington to play Central Washington University Saturday, February 1 at 5 p.m.