(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings Yellwojackets (11-8, 3-5 GNAC) will be back on the road this weekend for games against Great Northwest Athletic Conference foes Seattle Pacific (10-6, 5-4 GNAC) and Saint Martin’s (12-5, 5-4 GNAC). The ‘Jackets will visit the Falcons at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday before traveling to Lacey, Wash. to face the Saints at 7:30 p.m. (PST) on Saturday. It will begin a stretch of four road contest for the ‘Jackets with the team traveling to Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington the following week.
LAST TIME OUT: Splitting two conference games last week in Alterowitz Gym, the Yellowjackets are coming off of Saturday’s 100-91 loss to Western Washington after defeating Simon Fraser 78-73 last Thursday.
In the win over Simon Fraser, sophomore guard Tyler Green made a huge impact in his first game back from injury. Green led MSUB with 22 points while exercising his deep shot accuracy and connecting on six shots from beyond the arc.
Zharon Richmond added 18 points and a season high nine rebounds in the winning effort against the Clan.
In the loss to first-place Western Washington, the ‘Jackets rallied with a strong second half effort to trim a 21-point halftime deficit. MSUB shot just 34.5 percent for the field in the first half and connected on only 2 of 13 shots from deep while the Vikings shot 61.8 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
The tide turned late in the second half led by Kobe Terashima, Kendall Denham and Zack Rollins who combined for 41 points. The trio recorded a shooting percentage of 68.1 in the period. The ‘Jackets shot 7-for-14 from three while cutting the lead to seven before ultimately falling 100-91. It is the first game in which the ‘Jackets have scored 90 or more points and lost to a conference opponent since a Jan. 2016 loss to Northwest Nazarene 98-96 in Nampa, Idaho.
Saint Martin’s defeated Seattle Pacific on Tuesday night in by a final score of 80-73 in Seattle, Wash. The Saints made 9 of 25 shots from three while earning a 37-34 advantage in rebounds and forcing 15 SPU turnovers. Luke Chavez poured in 27 points to lead the SMU offense while EJ Boyce added 17 for the Saints.
Seattle Pacific had three players score in double figures in the game led by Gabe Colosimo and Harry Cavell who each scored 16. Gavin Long added 12 points for the Falcons and a team-high five assists.
SEATTLE PACIFIC: The Falcons lead the all-time series 41-30 over the Yellojackets and are 29-8 when hosting MSUB in Seattle. SPU has won the past six contests against the ‘Jackets with MSUB last winning a 72-70 game at the Falcons in 2014. In total, Seattle Pacific has won 10 of the last 11 contests dating back to 2012.
SAINT MARTIN’S: The Saints and ‘Jackets have split four games over the last two seasons while SMU still holds a slight 15-14 series advantage. The Yellowjackets are 6-9 when visiting Lacey but defeated the Saints on the road back in 2016 to snap a four game skid in the series. Last season the ‘Jackets lost a 106-58 game in Lacey before exacting revenge with a 92-83 win in Billings.
NUMBERS AND NOTES
GREEN RETURNS: After missing nine games with an injury, Tyler Green returned in dramatic fashion in Thursday’s win over Simon Fraser. He finished the first half with six points after going 2-for-5 from beyond the arc as the ‘Jackets trailed by 12 heading into the break. The sophomore guard ignited the MSUB offense in the second half with 16 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor. It was Green’s team-leading fifth 20-point performance of the season as he finished the night with 22 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in the 78-73 victory. Only six players in the GNAC have more games with 20 or more points than Green this season. At the time of his injury, Green was 28th in Division II in 3-pointers made while ranking 70th in 3-point attempts. He is averaging 5.2 threes per game this season and connects on 45.3 percent of his shots from deep.
CONVERTING FROM THE LINE: With all 11 Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams having at least eight conference games in the books, the Yellowjackets are tied with Alaska Anchorage for the best free throw percentage (76.5) against conference foes this season. Zack Rollins leads MSUB with a 90.9 free throw percentage against conference opponents while making 20 of 22 attempts over eight games. Zharon Richmond has been the most effective at getting to the line averaging five attempts per game and shooting 70 percent (28-40). Kobe Terashima made 6 of 10 free throw attempts over the first six GNAC-games before more than doubling his makes from the line last week, shooting 13-for-14 from the charity stripe. As a team, MSUB has made the fourth most trips to the line against conference opponents with 162 attempts trailing Seattle Pacific’s 242, Western Washington’s 174 and Saint Martin’s 170 foul shots.
BLOCK ABUNDANCE: In Saturday’s loss to the Western Washington, the Yellowjackets recorded just their second game of the season in which they did not block a single shot. In total, MSUB is 15th in Division II with 81 blocks this season led by Zharon Richmond whose 35 blocks ranks 20th nationally. The ‘Jackets had recorded 16 straight games with at least one block while rejecting three or more shots in 12 of those 16 contests. MSUB’s top-blocking performances of the season came against Alaska Anchorage and Northwest Nazarene in which the ‘Jackets recorded nine blocks in each contest, just two shy of the single-game record as a team. The teams’ 81 blocks is the seventh highest total for a season in program history.
3D DOMINANCE: During two games last week, MSUB held Simon Fraser and Western Washington to a combined 6 of 30 from 3-point range as the Clan and Vikings shot an identical 3-for-15 from beyond the arc. The ‘Jackets rank seventh in the nation in 3-point percentage defense while holding opponents to 29.9 percent this season. The emphasis on closing out open shooters has led to the ‘Jackets outshooting opponents from deep in all but two games this season. Opponents have made fewer than five 3-pointers in 14 of 19 games this season while the ‘Jackets have yet to sink fewer than five threes in any game. MSUB has also recorded a better shooting percentage than their foe in 14 of the 19 games with Chaminade being the only team to both make more threes and shoot a better percentage than the Yellowjackets from beyond the arc.
300-100 CLUB: Kendall Denham is one assist shy of being the 12th player in program history to record 300 assists in a career. Reaching the accomplishment will make Denham the third MSUB player to have both made 100 3-pointers and collect 300 assists in a career. The senior has 54 assists this season averaging 2.8 assists per game which ranks 14th in the GNAC.
FRESHMAN FORCE: Kobe Terashima and Zharon Richmond have adapted to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference quickly with the pair combining for 20.6 points per game in conference. Richmond has the best scoring and rebounding average of any freshman in GNAC play with 12 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. The Billings native also has the top 3-point percentage in his class, converting 11 of 22 (50%) attempts in conference play. Terashima is second in field goal percentage (57.1%) and assists (2.9) amongst freshman. Richmond has played 30 minutes per game over the eight-conference games while Terashima has averaged 23.5 as the teams’ sixth man. Both players scored 20 points in the loss to Western Washington, it was the second time Richmond has scored 20 in a conference game while Terashima recorded the first 20-point game of his career.
Seattle Pacific University Falcons
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 | 5:15 (PST) | Seattle, Wash.
2017-18 Record: 10-6, 5-4 GNAC
Head Coach: Grant Leep (2nd Season)
2016-17 Record: 12-16, 8-12 GNAC (10th Place)
The Falcons are looking to get back on track after dropping their past two GNAC games. A pair of close losses to Western Oregon, 83-79, and Saint Martin’s, 80-73, snapped a four game conference winning streak for Seattle Pacific. SPU is 4-3 at home this season and 5-2 on the road.
With the fifth highest scoring average in the league, SPU has relied on a potent offense to defeat their opponents. They have allowed 80 or more points to six GNAC opponents in nine games, going 2-4 in those contests. They allow the third highest scoring average with opposing offenses collecting 77.4 points per game. When the Falcons get a stop, they are one of the surest rebounding teams in the conference with their 27.4 defensive rebounds per game ranking second in the GNAC.
Sophomore Tony Miller leads the Falcons in scoring with 18 points per game followed by Gavin Long (11.9) and Nikhil Lizotte (10.4). Miller has six games this season with 20 or more points to lead the Falcons while four teammates have each recorded one such game.
As a team, the Falcons shot 47.7 percent from the floor and 37.8 from 3-point range. Long leads the team in shooting percentage (54.1%) while guard Gabe Colosimo is the teams’ most effective long rang threat making 48.3 percent of his shots from deep.
Coleman Wooten, Nathan Streufert and Miller all collect over six rebounds per game as they each stand over 6-foot 5-inches tall. Steufert is eighth in the conference with 1.3 blocks per game and sixth with 2.3 offensive rebounds.
Head coach Grant Leep is in his second season at the top of the program in Lacey after working with the Falcons for seven seasons as an assistant. He has already guided SPU to 10 wins, just two fewer than their season total a year ago. Leep played collegiately at the University of Washington where he holds records for 3-point shooting percentage in a season (52.7%) and a career (42.9%).
Saint Martin’s University Saints
Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 | 7:30 (PST) | Lacey, Wash.
2017-18 Record: 12-5, 5-4 GNAC
Head Coach: Alex Pribble (3rd Season)
2016-17 Record: 17-13, 10-10 GNAC (4th Place)
Saint Martin’s is riding a two game winning streak into the game against the ‘Jackets after wins over Concordia and SPU. The Saints have been consistent throughout the season with a 5-2 record both at home and on the road. Their biggest win of the season came on the road against then-No. 7 Cal Baptist in Riverside, Calif. Back on Nov. 25.
The Saints consistency is buoyed by the third best scoring margin in the conference as they outscore opponents by an average of 7.1 points per game. Opponents have averaged just 73.5 points per contest against the Saints with the SMU holding a perfect 3-0 record in GNAC play when holding their rival below 70. In six games in which the SMU defense has allowed more than 70 points in conference, the Saints are just 2-4.
Luke Chavez is the leading threat for the SMU offense averaging 16.7 points per game followed by Ej Boyce’s 11.6 scoring average. Chavez is shooting 51.2 percent from the field this season and 39.3 from three. Boyce leads the GNAC with 53 makes from long range this season with an SMU-best 42.1 3-point shooting percentage.
Freshman Tavian Henderson has shown remarkable shot selection in his first season as he shoots a GNAC-leading 75.9 percent from the floor. He has only shot below 50 percent from the field once this season, back on Nov. 14 against Hawaii Hilo. Henderson is averaging 8.3 points and a team-high 4.9 rebounds per game as a guard/forward.
Chavez stars on both ends of the floor for SMU as the junior guard ranks third in the conference with 2.1 steals per contest and has the second best assists to turnover ratio in the GNAC. Jordan Kitchen and Matt Dahlen each average over a block a game with Kitchen being the Saints second best rebounder with 4.8 boards a game.
Head coach Alex Pribble led the Saints to their first ever GNAC Tournament victory last season when SMU defeated Concordia 78-73 in Lacey. Western Washington ended the Saints stellar season last year in the semifinals of the GNAC Tournament in Seattle. Before joining Saint Martin’s, Pribble was an assistant at Eastern Washington for two seasons. The Saints are 44-31 since Pribble took control of the program.
All MSUB home games as well as all GNAC road contests can be followed via the MSUB Stretch Internet Portal.