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MSU Billings women set for GNAC home openers

MSUB Women's Basketball
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 18:30:29-05

(MSU Billings release)

BILLLINGS - Starting out 2020 with a return to Billings, the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team hosts Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals Central Washington University and Northwest Nazarene University this week at Alterowitz Gymnasium. The ‘Jackets play CWU Thursday, January 2 at 7 p.m. Defending GNAC Champion NNU visits the Magic City Saturday, January 4 at 7 p.m. undefeated through three conference games and a recent trip to the NCAA tournament appearance.

“It is exciting for our team to get back into GNAC play and awesome to be at home to start the New Year,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “Both CWU and NNU are talented and experienced teams. We will have to be ready to play as they are highly ranked for a reason. The holiday break has allowed a few of our players to get more healthy and now the challenge is to see if we can improve upon where we were at before the break. I am pleased with the development of our team to date but the true test is how we do in our upcoming GNAC contests.”

The Yellowjackets played an exhibition game at University of Montana on December 20 and defeated Dickinson State University 81-44 in their last regular season game. MSUB is 5-0 at home and had a winning record at Alterowitz Gymnasium in 2018-19.

Guard Hannah Collins continues to lead the Yellowjackets with 14 points per game. Taryn Shelley contributes on both ends of the floor with 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. Shelley also leads the team in blocks with 17.

Scouting Central Washington University
Thursday, January 2 – 7 p.m. – Billings, Montana – Alterowitz Gymnasium
2019-20 Record: 7-4, 2-1 GNAC, 5-2 home, 1-1 away, 1-1 neutral
2018-19 Record: 18-11, 12-8 GNAC, 8-5 home, 7-5 away, 3-1 neutral
Head Coach: Randi Richardson-Thornley (3rd season, 5th overall)

Central Washington scores 71.6 points per game while allowing 62.5 points to its opponents. Senior forward Kaelie Flores leads the team with 14 points per contest and 7.9 rebounds. She scored a season high 24 points last time out against Northwest Nazarene for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-0-inch Flores started 29 games in 2018-19 and averaged 12 points.

After rattling off four straight wins, Central Washington hit a roadblock and suffered an 85-76 loss to NNU December 21 at home. Currently third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings.

“Central is so explosive offensively,” Woodin said. “Pana directs their attack so well and they can score quickly and also both inside and outside. Their team is very versatile as their bigs can score outside and they have guards who can post so defending them is very hard. We will have to be fundamentally sound on defense and rebounding will be critical.”

Scouting Northwest Nazarene University
Saturday, January 4 – 7 p.m. – Billings, Montana – Alterowitz Gymnasium
2019-20 Record: 8-3, 3-0 GNAC, 5-1 home, 1-1 away, 2-1 neutral
2018-19 Record: 29-3, 18-2 GNAC, 14-0 home, 10-2 away, 5-1 neutral
Head Coach: Steve Steele (4th season)

The GNAC’s top team comes to Billings on a six-game win streak Saturday. The Nighthawks have notable victories over Stanislaus State, Colorado Mesa, and Central Washington so far.

NNU scores 78 points per game while allowing 67 points to its opponents. Senior guard Avery Albrecht leads the offensive effort with 16 points per game. Senior guard Marina Valles also contributes with 14 points per game and sophomore forward Erin Jenkins posts an average of 12 points.

Last season the Nighthawks swept the season series with MSUB and scored more than 90 points in both contests.

“NNU is also very explosive,” said Woodin. “They press you full court on defense and put great pressure on you all the time. I am impressed with the tempo they play at and they have experienced perimeter players who attack so well. We must be good at deciding when to push the tempo and when to set it up more in the half court. Limiting turnovers that lead directly to points for them must be avoided.”