(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings Men’s basketball team lost its first home game of the year falling to Northwest Nazarene University 85-72 Thursday night in Alterowtiz Gym.
In their Great Northwest Home opener, The Yellowjackets (6-7, 1-4 GNAC) were out worked and could never sustain any type of flow or run needed to overtake NNU (5-6, 2-4 GNAC).
A back and forth half saw MSUB hold an early lead 19-12 on a Clarence Daniels II layup at the 11:11 mark for their largest lead of the game. Slowly but surely, NNU closed the gap until they tied the game at 22 and then took the lead 24-22 with 4:43 left in the first half.
NNU would never trail again and in a game that felt closer than it was MSUB did make a run early in the second half to pull within one points 43-42 after a Chrishon Dixon Layup. But the Nighthawks slowly and methodically pulled away from MSUB by controlling both ends of the floor, stretching their lead to as many as 16 points on their way to an 85-72 win.
“NNU was really good tonight,” said head coach Mick Durham. “They controlled both ends and were the tougher team”.
MSUB finished with 11 turnovers and 13 assists to NNU’s nine turnover and 9 assists. The Nighthawk bench proved the difference, outscoring MSUB’s 31-10. Ezekiel Alley scored a game high 27 points coming off the bench and provided the offensive spark to hold MSUB at bay.
Brendan Howard posted a team high 22 points and had 7 rebounds. Tyler Green finished with 19 points on five three point shots and Zharon Richmond scored 17 points to go with four rebounds.
The Yellowjackets host Central Washington University on Saturday in Alterowitz Gym. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Last season, MSUB split two games with CWU as both teams defended their home court. MSUB beat CWU 87-47 in Alterowitz last year.
Out in Portland, Taryn Shelley notched her sixth double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds, helping MSUB's women outlast Concordia University 64-58. Jeanann Lemelin never left the court and posted a season high 20 points, five rebounds as the Yellowjackets (8-6, 3-2 GNAC) bounced back from their loss to Central Washington last Thursday.
Shelley scored 15 of her 23 points in the first half and the Cavaliers and Yellowjackets traded baskets with five lead changes in the opening 20-minutes. MSUB led 34-31 at the break, then outscored CU 19-10 in the third quarter to draw scoreboard separation. MSUB staved off a late rally and kept the Cavaliers to a six-point margin. The ‘Jackets then iced the game after shooting free throws in the final minute.
“I felt we responded extremely well after a slow start in the first quarter and continued to improve throughout the game,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “It was very important to extend the lead to double-figures in the second half and I was proud of the way our team played offensively using different combinations from the norm. Taryn carried us with her strong post play and mid-range shooting and I was impressed with Jeanann’s game on both ends of the court. It’s not easy to play a full 40-minutes, but Jeanann was able to be effective tonight.”
MSU Billings shot 48-percent (25-for-52) from the field with 28 points in the paint and seven 3-pointers. Danielle Zahn scored nine points on three triples in 26 minutes off the bench. Janessa Williams also helped in relief with six points and five rebounds over 12 minutes.
“We had good performances from our bench players which contributed to our success,” Woodin said. “Janessa had several put-backs and Danielle scored 3-pointers when we needed it. Any road win in this league is a great accomplishment so I was happy with how our team competed.”
Though the ‘Jackets scored often enough to win, three Concordia players notched double-figure point totals. Riley Frauf led the Cavs with 17 points, nine rebounds and shot 5-for-9. Kelsey Hudson finished with 12 points, three rebounds, and Olivia Vezaldenos posted 11 points to go with four rebounds. Concordia shot 32-percent (21-for-66) overall but struggled from long range with four made threes on 24 attempts (17-percent).
The Yellowjackets began the day in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference. Concordia (3-11, 2-4 GNAC) lost their second straight contest and fell to 1-5 at home this season. MSU Billings visit Western Oregon University Saturday at 2 p.m. local time before heading to Alaska for two games next week. Concordia is off Saturday, then travels to play Seattle Pacific University and Saint Martin’s University in the third week of January.
THE BUZZ: Lemelin was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game Lemelin’s previous best was 14 points on February 14, 2019 against Northwest Nazarene…Lemelin also set a new career high in minutes played, topping her previous record of 38 minutes versus Angelo State on December 19, 2018…Shelley leads the Yellowjackets with six double-doubles, matching her total from last season Thursday night. Her 12 defensive rebounds are the most this season by an MSUB player.