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MSUB men, women claim GNAC victories at home

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Posted at 10:30 PM, Jan 14, 2023

(Editor's note: MSUB athletics release)

BILLINGS — The Montana State University Billings women's basketball team was victorious in its return to Alterowitz, defeating Seattle Pacific University 66-49 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play Saturday at Alterowitz Gym.

It was a successful all-around showing for the Yellowjackets (14-4,5-2 GNAC), who had nine different players score in the game on their way to sinking the Falcons (10-5, 5-2 GNAC). Cariann Kunkel and Aspen Giese would each score 12 points to lead the 'Jackets. Giese finished with five rebounds and a trio of assists and steals, while Kunkel ended with three boards. "It was great to win a home conference game this afternoon," said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. "I thought our defense was awesome today for the entire game. Kudos to Alisha (Breen) for her preparation and to our entire team for executing her game plan."

Kortney Nelson scored 11 points, going 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. She also battled her way to earn seven rebounds and six assists, both team highs. Taryn Shelley had an electric second half, scoring all of her nine in the final two quarters. Shayla Montague was perfect from the field, scoring eight points on 3-for-3 shooting, two of which were threes. "Offensively, we executed well over the final three quarters and shot the ball with confidence tonight," Woodin said. "The 3-point line was huge today for us and we were patient when we needed to be and pushed the ball on occasions too."

The Falcons would be the ones who found success early in the game, shooting 66.7 percent in the first quarter to jump out to an early lead while MSUB struggled to begin the matchup. But the Yellowjackets would respond forcefully in the second quarter, outscoring SPU 15-6 and swinging the game back in their favor. It was the combined efforts of Danielle Zahn, Giese, and Kunkel, who each scored five in the second period, that helped wake up the 'Jackets offense and sent them into halftime with a 25-21 lead.

The third quarter was where the 'Jackets offense truly caught fire. Shooting 50 percent from the field, and knocking down 42.9 percent of their long-range efforts, the Yellowjackets grew their lead to as much as 14 in the third. They would grow that to as much as 17 by game's end, as they finished of the game strong to defeat the Falcons. MSUB would limit SPU's second chance opportunities, only allowing the Falcons to grab one offensive board after taking seven in the first half. The 'Jackets also took advantage of some sloppy play, scoring 23 points off of SPU turnovers.

With the win tonight, the 'Jackets moved into a tie with Seattle Pacific for second place in the GNAC standings, as the 'Jackets march towards the midway mark in conference play. "Kortney played an excellent all-around game," Woodin said on the junior. "She scored and dished effectively. We had great scoring balance on offense. Dani Zahn sparked us offensively in the first half and Taryn Shelley was big in the second half for us off the bench. Overall it was a great team victory over a very good SPU team. We are excited to host SFU and WWU next week."

THE BUZZ: Nelson was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…the 'Jackets are now 26-33 all time against the Falcons, and have won four consecutive games against them.

UP NEXT: The Yellowjackets follow up their victory this week with a pair of conference games, the first of which they'll face Simon Fraser University on January 19 at Alterowitz Gym. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.