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Unfinished Business: MSU Billings women eager to ‘cut some nets,' reach Elite Eight

Posted at 2:03 PM, Mar 18, 2024

BILLINGS — The MSU Billings basketball women are exactly where they want to be. Deep into the eye of the storm as college basketball’s March Madness escalates.

Monday night high stakes will be settled as a bid to next week's Elite Eight in St. Joseph, Missouri, is on the line.

‘Unfinished Business’ is this year’s MSUB team motto.

“We chose that because last year we got to regionals, we won our first game — which was awesome — and then we wanted to get to that Elite Eight but fell short in that semifinal game,” Yellowjacket guard Kortney Nelson recounted to MTN Sports via Zoom Monday morning.

Head coach Kevin Woodin, now in his 20th season, remembers it well.

“We were close last year to achieving some things, like (finished) second in the conference – lost in the conference championship (game). Won a game at regionals, lost out in the semifinals," he said. "So, I think we just wanted to cuts some nets (this year) and get farther.”

As regular-season GNAC champions, the Jackets did recently cut nets. The No. 4 seed Yellowjackets (28-6, 16-2 GNAC) can do it again by winning the NCAA D2 Western Regional Championship game against No. 2 seed Cal-State San Marcos (25-6, 18-4 CCAA) on the campus of Azusa Pacific in Los Angeles. Tip off is at 8 p.m. MDT with live streaming available for $10.

“Their post was the West Regional Player of the Year, and then they have a good little guard, too," said MSUB forward Dyauni Boyce. "I think we match up well, but I think we can expose them in maybe their weaker areas.”

MSUB's 28-6 record includes its most wins ever in a season for a squad that may be peaking at the perfect time.

“Right now, we’re just playing really well together," Boyce said. "We’re playing as a team, we’re sharing the ball, we’re hitting shots.”

MSUB last qualified for the Elite Eight during the 2017-2018 campaign, with that tournament also hosted by Azusa. Overall the Yellowjackets have won four regional championships, including 1998-1999 after earning back-to-back titles in 1975-1976 and 1976-1977.

This year, a noticeably high-energy fan base is tagging along.

“It’s awesome," said Nelson with a smile. "They’re kind of like their own little cheerleading section up there.”

“A lot of our parents, mine included, came down and they’re cheering … starting chants,” Boyce said.

Woodin is also appreciative and impressed by those who've made the long journey from Montana.

“I don’t know what their pregame is made of, but they seem to walk in there just a few minutes before tip and they’re ready to go,” he said.

One more win and the Jackets will cut regional championship nets in front of those fans, then continue a sensational, record-setting season at next week’s Elite Eight.