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Wildcats stymie MSU Billings women in key GNAC battle

Posted: 9:38 PM, Feb 02, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-02 23:38:51-05
Taylor Cunningham MSUB

(MSU Billings release)

ELLENSURG, Wash. – Samantha Bowman scored 22 points and four Central Washington University players reached double figures as the Wildcats downed Montana State University Billings 71-62 Saturday night at Nicholson Pavilion in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball game. The ‘Jackets struggled to stop Central Washington’s potent offense in the second half and the Wildcats connected on 43-percent of field goals throughout the night. Taryn Shelley scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss for MSUB.

The Yellowjackets (10-11, 5-7 GNAC) dropped their fourth game in five outings and were swept on the weekend by Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene. Meanwhile, the Wildcats (12-8, 7-5 GNAC) split a pair of games this week and have won three out of four.

“This was a tough loss for us tonight,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “The first half was an uphill battle, but I thought we finished it well and felt good going into the break trailing only by three. Central Washington shot the 3-pointer very well in the first half but we defended inside much better. It will be nice to be home for a couple of weeks and I am confident we can get back on track and play more consistently. We just need to get back to the gym and work harder.”

The Yellowjackets had moderate success following the opening tip but trailed 13-12 by the end of the first quarter. Central Washington improved gradually with 17, 19, and 22 points in each of the final three quarters to pull away late. MSUB held CWU to 32 points in the paint but the Wildcats shot 7-for-20 from long range to supplement their scoring.

Bowman added three steals and three rebounds to her 22 points and shot 9-for-12 overall. Kassidy Malcolm also hurt the ‘Jackets with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and a pair of steals. Kaelie Flores and Alexis Pana made it to double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively. CWU also shot 82-percent (12-for-14) from the free throw line.

“Central came out in the third quarter and jumped on us, which was opposite of what we needed to happen,” said Woodin. “Playing from behind is so tough to do on the road and although we continued to fight, we just couldn’t get over the hump. I felt Pana played well off ball screens tonight and controlled the half court tempo for CWU. Bowman was also effective tonight against us. They have many versatile players, which made them difficult to defend. We had a lot of chances to cut the deficit under five but came up short.”

Shelley shot 8-for-13 inside with 18 points and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds and one steal. Hannah Collins played 20-minutes and recorded her best game since her absence due to injury. Collins finished with 15 points, three assists, and two steals in 29 minutes on the floor. Jeanann Lemelin continued her scoring pace with 10 points, five rebounds, and a pair of steals. The Yellowjackets shot 44-percent (29-for-59) overall, including 32-percent (7-for-22) from the 3-point arc. MSUB shot just four free throws in the game and neither team ran into significant foul trouble.

THE BUZZ: Taryn Shelley was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for the Yellowjackets.

UP NEXT: MSU Billings (10-11, 5-7) returns to host Western Oregon and Concordia University next week at Alterowitz Gymnasium. The ‘Jackets have nine regular season contests remaining and are tied for sixth out of 11 schools in the conference standings.