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MSU Billings women see halftime lead slip away in GNAC championship game loss

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Posted at 11:36 PM, Mar 04, 2023

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Montana State Billings led by 12 points at halftime Saturday night but saw that advantage evaporate in the second half in a 76-71 loss to Western Washington in the championship game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament at Carver Gym.

Top-seeded WWU outscored the No. 2-seeded Yellowjackets 44-27 in the second half. The victory clinched an automatic berth for the Vikings (24-3) in the NCAA Division II postseason. MSUB (23-7) will await an announcement on its postseason draw.

The Yellowjackets made nine 3-pointers in the first half but none in the second. They were outscored 42-12 in the paint and finished with a .373 shooting percentage from the field after hitting 45% of their shots in the first half.

WWU was led by tournament MVP Brooke Walling, who scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Avery Dykstra added 12 points and Katrina Gimmaka added 10. The Vikings had 30 bench points, including 12 from Carley Zaragoza and 10 from Maddy Grandbois.

“Western Washington really took it to us down low,” MSUB coach Kevin Woodin said in a press release. “They were hard to guard, and unfortunately we just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hoop. We had our chances at the end, I’m proud of our fight, but just came up short.”

Fort Benton grad Aspen Giese again led MSUB, this time with 14 points. Billings West alum Shayla Montague chipped in 13 points while Scobey's Kortney Nelson had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.