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MSU Billings women blast No. 9 Alaska Anchorage, 72-48

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Posted at 9:15 AM, Jan 18, 2022

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – For the first time since the 2003-04 season, the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team defeated host University of Alaska Anchorage on the road as the Yellowjackets stunned the No. 9 Seawolves 72-48 on Monday night in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play at the Alaska Airlines Center.

MSUB’s last win over UAA in Anchorage was a 62-54 triumph on Dec. 19, 2003, and Monday was MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin’s first-ever road win over the perennial GNAC powerhouse. “I’m really proud of our team,” Woodin said. “We came back with a great effort on Saturday and backed it up today. This gives us some momentum going forward, and what I like is we are playing well on both ends right now. As long as we keep believing in one another, playing hard, and getting better, there is no telling how good we can become. Today was a lot of fun to watch, and I am really proud of our team and my assistant coaches.”

The Seawolves snapped a 33-game home winning streak on Monday night, and a streak of 41 consecutive regular-season GNAC home victories. It was UAA’s highest margin of defeat at home since the Alaska Airlines Center opened in 2014, and was its worst home loss since a 76-49 defeat against Northwest Nazarene on Jan. 17, 2013. “We came together, and once we got a couple of baskets we were on our way,” Woodin said. “We had great spacing tonight against their half-court defense. We shared the ball well, and created a lot of good shots which was important.”

The Yellowjackets (10-8, 4-2 GNAC) caused a season-high 22 turnovers by UAA, and limited the Seawolves to a field goal percentage of 32.1 (17-for-53) in the landmark victory. Cariann Kunkel scored a game-high 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting, as she was one point off her collegiate career high in leading MSUB to the win. Kortney Nelson added 15 points and a team-leading nine rebounds, and Shayla Montague and Skylar Patton each chipped in 10 points in the win. “Cariann was tremendous tonight,” Woodin said on the junior’s highest point total in a Yellowjacket uniform. “She has the ability to score from the perimeter as well as inside, and tonight it was nice to see her hit a couple threes and some mid-range shots. She scored in a lot of different areas, and that was hard for them to guard tonight.

Tennae Voliva led UAA with 16 points, but was the lone Seawolf to score more than seven on the quiet offensive evening. UAA fell to 10-2 overall on the year and suffered their first conference defeat of the year moving to 3-1 in league action. It was the team’s lowest point total of the season, surpassing its previous low of 62 points on Nov. 27 against Winston-Salem.

Momentum shifted midway through the first quarter, with the Yellowjackets facing a 15-6 deficit early in the game. The ‘Jackets embarked on a 16-0 run that covered nearly eight minutes of game time, stunning the Seawolves by taking a 22-15 advantage with six minutes to go before halftime. “The best part of the night was after we got down early, and we weren’t playing well,” Woodin said. “We climbed out of that, and I could just tell that we had a focus and confidence about us that was growing.”

During the scoreless drought, UAA went 0-for-10 with seven turnovers as the Yellowjacket defense locked down the hosts. A 3-pointer by Rachel Ingram with 2:32 to go before halftime snapped a span of 11:22 minutes of game time without a made field goal, but by then the Yellowjackets were firmly in command. “We played a couple different defenses, and the communication was outstanding,” Woodin commented on the game-defining run. “They are starting to understand where each other are on the floor. It’s a young group, but I feel like they remind one another on the defensive end where to be, and we are doing things as a team better than we were even a couple weeks ago.”

After limiting UAA to just seven points in the second quarter, MSUB led 30-22 at halftime and never looked back. The Seawolves never got closer than 10 points in the second half, as MSUB put its foot on the gas to knock off the first-place team in the conference standings. “Our consistency is improving,” Woodin said. “We held them during that stretch in the first half to a lot of single shots. They are good on offensive boards, but they had a lot of one-and-done possessions which was critical.”

Taryn Shelley finished with eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals, while Dyauni Boyce had four assists off the bench and Aspen Giese added three assists. MSUB shot 43.6 percent in the game (24-for-55) including 36.4 percent from the arc (8-for-22). The Yellowjackets also made 16 of 17 free throws (94.1 percent).

On the poor overall night shooting, UAA made just 4 of 24 threes (16.7 percent), and 10 of 15 free throws (66.7 percent). The Seawolves out-rebounded the ‘Jackets 34-33, but couldn’t overcome the poor ball control and poor shooting. Monday was the Seawolves’ highest margin of defeat since a 104-78 loss to Northwest Nazarene University on Feb. 22, 2018.