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MSU Billings women Oregon-bound

Posted at 9:24 PM, Jan 17, 2018

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s basketball reaches the midway point on Saturday, and the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team will look to keep itself towards the top of the league standings with a pair of road games.

The Yellowjackets (12-6, 5-3) enter this week in fourth place in the GNAC, and face a pair of league opponents in road contests over the weekend. MSUB plays at seventh-place Western Oregon University (8-7, 4-5 GNAC) Thursday evening in Monmouth, Ore., before heading up I5 to face fifth-place Concordia University (11-6, 5-4 GNAC) on Saturday in Portland. Each game is scheduled to tip off at 6:15 p.m. Mountain time, and live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available online through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.

“We are looking forward to this road trip to Oregon, and these are two important GNAC games as we reach the end of the first half of the season,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We need to defend well as a team, and I would like to see us start games better than we have lately. Balanced scoring was a key to our victory on Saturday, and it is going to be important to win the 3-point battle in our games.”

MSUB split a pair of conference games at home last week, falling to Northwest Nazarene University 66-52 last Thursday before a dramatic 86-84 win over Central Washington University on Saturday. The ‘Jackets play eight of their final 12 conference games on the road down the stretch, with a goal to finish in the top-six in order to claim a berth into the 2017-18 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships March 1-3 in Anchorage, Alaska.

“I was especially pleased with our victory Saturday night, and to be able to come back and win a close game was really good for our confidence,” Woodin said. “Hopefully we can take that momentum on the road with us this week.”

The Yellowjackets’ two opponents this week squared off on Tuesday evening, with Western Oregon claiming a 68-51 win over Concordia at home. “Western Oregon had a nice win last night against Concordia, so I am expecting them to be playing with a lot of confidence on Thursday,” Woodin said. “They have some new faces who are doing well for them, and it seems like our games down there are always close. I expect another close contest.

“Concordia is a much-improved team from last year, and they have been playing very well overall the past few weeks,” said Woodin. “They have done a great job in GNAC play at home, and I know they will be ready for us.”

LAST FIVE: W-W-L-L-W

IN THE RANKINGS: MSUB remained at No. 8 in the latest D2SIDA West Region rankings for the second straight week. The Yellowjackets will await the first NCAA regional rankings, which eventually determine the eight-team regional playoff field, in the coming weeks.

MORE HARDWARE FOR BREEN: For the fourth time this year and sixth time in her career, senior Alisha Breen was tabbed the GNAC Player of the Week. She notched two double-doubles – giving her eight this year and 15 in her career – including a personal-best 18 rebounds in the game against Northwest Nazarene. Breen’s six career GNAC Player of the Week awards are tied for second most in conference history.

Breen scored 36 points in two games last week, and cracked into the GNAC career top-10 with 1,578 points in her career. She is also No. 4 in MSUB history in career scoring, and jumped to No. 8 in school history with 694 career rebounds.

GNAC Career Scoring Leaders (1/17/18)

Rank Name School Points Seasons
1 Erin Chambers Simon Fraser 1946 2011-15
2 Taylor Peacocke Western Washington 1940 2013-17
3 Bobbi Knudsen
MSU Billings 1831 2010-14
4 Jordan Wilson Alaska 1783 2013-17
5 Rebecca Kielpinski Alaska Anchorage 1752 2005-09
6 Rose Shaw Central Washington 1696 1998-2002
7 Amanda Dunbar Western Washington 1654 2007-11
8 Katie Benson Seattle Pacific 1645 2010-14
9 Nicole Lynch Humboldt State 1623 2001-05
10 Alisha Breen
MSU Billings 1578 2013-15, 17-18

Breen also made 14 free throws last week, bringing her total makes on the season to 104. Entering Thursday’s game, Breen is No. 3 in the NCAA Division II in made foul shots, and is also No. 2 in GNAC history in the category with 447 makes in her career. The senior leads the GNAC with 20.4 points per game, which ranks third in the NCAA Division II west region and 15th in the nation. Her 368 total points scored are second-most in the west region and seventh most among all players in Division II.

NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Free Throw Leaders (1/17/18)

Rank Player School Class FTM Games
1 Megan Rosenbohm Southwest Baptist SR 110 16
2 Kalli Feddersen Chadron State SR 108 17
3 Alisha Breen
MSU Billings SR 104 18
4 Kylie Lorenzen Southern New Hampshire SO 97 16
5 Dana Watts American International JR 96 18
Jodi Johnson Ashland SO 96 17
7 Natalie Diaz Dominican (CA) JR 92 16
8 Ariel Jones Shippensburg FR 91 15
Brianna Wise Texas A&M Commerce SR 91 15
10 Rikke Fabricius Cal State L.A. SR 90 18

KANE HAS SEASON-HIGH IN ASSISTS: Coming inches away from her first-career double-double last week, senior Rylee Kane had a season-high nine assists to go along with 17 points in the win over Central Washington. The senior from Red Lodge, Mont., moved to No. 3 in MSUB history with 481 career assists, and remained at No. 8 in conference history. Kane is No. 13 in the NCAA this season in total assists with 97, and is tied for fourth in the west region in that category. She also reached 902 career points last week, and extended the second-longest streak of games started in GNAC history to 106.

GNAC Women’s Basketball Consecutive Games Started Streaks (1/17/18)

Player School Years Starts Team Games Pct. Consecutive Starts Streak Duration
Rebecca Kielpinski UAA 2005-09 126 126 100% 126 11-16-05 to 3-25-09*
Rylee Kane
MSUB 2014-18 106 106 100% 106 11-14-14 to Current
Nicole Lynch HSU 2001-05 103 107 96% 103 11-16-01 to 3-5-05*
Megan Hingston NNU 2010-14 105 110 95% 101 12-18-10 to 3-1-14*
Erin Chambers SFU 2011-15 113 117 97% 99 2-2-12 to 3-6-15*
Jamey Gelhar SMU 2006-10 101 110 92% 99 1-4-04 to 3-6-10*
Bobbi Knudsen
MSUB 2010-14 107 118 91% 92 2-28-11 to 3-17-14*
*-Indicates career ended with streak intact.

COLLINS HAS BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: The best game of the year for freshman point guard Hannah Collins emerged when the ‘Jackets needed a boost, as she scored 10 of her season-high 15 points in the opening quarter of Saturday’s win over Central. Collins went 3-for-3 from the arc, and also had a pair of assists and a rebound in 26 minutes off the bench. The Great Falls, Mont., native is now sixth on the team with 4.8 points per game, and she has seen action in all 18 of the Yellowjackets’ games.

EDWARD CHIPS IN SEASON-HIGH: Taylor Edwards had her first double-figure game of the season against Northwest Nazarene, knocking down three 3-pointers en route to 11 points in 21 minutes. Edwards’ 29 minutes played last week were her most in a weekend so far this season, as she nears full strength after missing the second half of last year with an injury.

PREVOST’S THREE THREES: For the third time this season, senior Lexi Prevost reached three made threes in a game as she was perfect from the arc in the win over Central. Her 11 points on the evening matched her second-highest total this year, as did her 26 minutes of action. Prevost also had three assists and two steals in the game, both figures matching her season high.

SPREAD THE SCORING: Keeping a balanced attack in its game plan this week, MSUB will look to replicate its performance of five double-figure scorers in the win against Central Washington. The ‘Jackets are 8-1 this season when making eight or more threes in a game, but are 4-5 when making seven or fewer from the arc. In each of the nine games in which the team has had eight or more threes, at least four different players hit a three and at least one player had multiple threes.

Western Oregon University Wolves
Thursday, Jan. 18 – 6:15 PM (MTN) – Monmouth, OR
2017-18 Record: 8-7, 4-5 GNAC
Last Five: L-L-W-L-W
Head Coach: Holli Howard-Carpenter (5th season)
2016-17 Record: 8-19, 4-16 GNAC (10th place)

After snapping a six-game losing skid with a big 54-50 win over Western Washington on Jan. 6, the Wolves have won three of their last four and have vaulted their way back into the playoff picture in the GNAC standings. WOU has won its last two conference games handily, cruising past the University of Alaska 74-54 before taking care of Concordia on Tuesday.

MSUB catches WOU in the midst of a four game home stand, as the Wolves host Northwest Nazarene University and Central Washington University next week.

The Wolves’ offense is paced by Savannah Heugly, who is averaging a team-best 11.8 points per contest. Heugly does the majority of her work under the basket, carrying a field-goal percentage of 47.3 on the year. She also leads the squad in rebounding with 6.0 per game, and in steals with 25 total.

Also in double figures in scoring for the Wolves is Sydney Azorr, who checks in at 10.8 points per game. Azorr is one of the top 3-point shooters on the squad at 37.8 percent, just behind Kennedy Corrigan who is at 38.2 percent from the arc.

Shelby Snook, who burst onto the scene with a pair of 30-point games a season ago, runs the offense and is averaging 8.4 points and a team-high 30.1 minutes. Snook leads the squad with 40 assists, and is shooting 85.3 percent from the foul line to rank fifth in the conference.

Western Oregon is ninth in the GNAC with a scoring margin of minus-2.1, as the team averages 65.9 points per game while allowing 68.0. The Wolves shoot 37.6 percent from the floor, 27.5 percent from 3-point range, and 79.2 percent from the foul line. WOU is also out-rebounding the opposition 40.6-39.0 this year.

The Series: MSUB is 24-6 all-time against the Wolves, including a record of 12-4 in road contests. The ‘Jackets have won four in-a-row, eight of the last 10, and 13 of the last 15 dating back to 2010. MSUB has not lost in Monmouth since Jan. 5, 2013, a stretch of four straight road wins in the series.

Last Time Out: The ‘Jackets claimed the season series, winning 74-67 at home last year and pulling off a 64-60 win on the road. Kane had a career-high 25 points in the home win, while Prevost had 10 points and a personal-best five assists. Snook had 30 for the Wolves in Billings, while Jasmine Miller had 16 and Azorr had 11. The last time the teams played in Monmouth, Kane had 17 points, while Prevost had nine and Grace Weeks had seven points and seven rebounds.

Concordia University Cavaliers
Saturday, Jan. 20 – 6:15 PM (MTN) – Portland, OR
2017-18 Record: 11-6, 5-4 GNAC
Last Five: W-W-W-L-L
Head Coach: Sean Kelly, 4th season
2016-17 Record: 12-16, 9-11 GNAC (8th place)
Last Meeting: MSUB 72, CU 65 (Nov. 17 at Billings)

A five-game winning streak that pushed the ‘Cavs into the postseason mix ended last week, with a narrow 76-68 defeat at No. 6 University of Alaska Anchorage. CU followed with the defeat in Monmouth earlier this week, and will now turn its attention to its second game against MSUB this season.

The ‘Jackets claimed a 72-65 win in Billings earlier this year, in a non-conference game that was part of the 2017 Yellowjacket Classic. The teams will meet again in their second conference game of the year in Billings on Feb. 15.

CU is led by a trio of double-figure scorers, including Danielle Hartzog who is second in the league behind Breen with 15.9 points per game. Hartzog owns the top single-game scoring performance in the conference this year, as she reached 34 in the Cavaliers’ win over Simon Fraser on Jan. 6.

Bailey Cartwright is one of the conference’s top players, as she is the only one in the league to average a double-double with 13.2 points and a GNAC-high 10.4 rebounds. She is the only player with more double-doubles than MSUB’s Breen, as she has achieved the feat 10 times this year.

Kizzah Maltezo is one of the best bench players in the conference, with 11.1 points in 22.5 minutes while playing in all 17 of the Cavaliers’ games. Maltezo is CU’s top threat from 3-point range, as her 39 makes from the arc are second-most in the GNAC.

In her junior season, point guard Keesha Sarman has durability comparable to that of MSUB’s Kane. Sarman has started all 73 of her team’s games in her three seasons in charge of the offense, and is the only player in the GNAC this year ahead of Kane in assists per game with 5.7.

As a team the Cavaliers have the fourth-best scoring margin in the conference at plus-7.2, averaging 70.4 points per game while allowing 63.1. CU shoots 39.0 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from 3-point range, and 69.9 percent from the free-throw line. The ‘Cavs also lead the GNAC in rebounding margin at plus-6.5, grabbing 42.8 rebounds per game while allowing just 36.2.

The Series: The ‘Jackets are 4-1 in the all-time series including the win earlier this year, and are 1-1 in games played in Portland. MSUB’s lone loss in the series came last year on the road in a 66-54 defeat.

Last Time Out: Prevost led the team with a season-best 14 points, while Breen had 13 on 10-for-10 accuracy from the foul line and Kane added a dozen. Cartwright countered with 19 points for the ‘Cavs, while Hartzog had 12 and Sarman had 11 in the meeting in Billings.