(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – In their final road contest of the 2018 season the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (13-14, 5-11 GNAC) earned a dramatic 77-75 win over the Simon Fraser Clan (9-15, 3-13 GNAC) in Burnaby, B.C. MSU Billings finished the game on a 19-6 run led by nine points from Zack Rollins.
MSUB was down by as many as 13 points in the second half but eight second half 3-pointers and a 55.2 percent shooting rate led a late rally from the Yellowjacket offense. Rollins was at the front of the charge as the junior scored all 27 of his points in the second half and made six threes.
With Simon Fraser up 72-66 with just 2:33 remaining, Rollins made back-to-back threes to even the game with 1:52 left. After sinking a free throw, Rollins gave the ‘Jackets their first lead in over 14 minutes of play. The Clan responded with a layup to gain a 74-73 lead but Rollins continued to roll, hitting a tightly contested fade-away jumper with just 25 seconds remaining to give MSUB a one-point edge.
Two free throws from Hafeez Abdul netted a three-point lead with just 13 seconds on the clock. During the final possession for the Clan, Denham committed an intentional foul to send SFU’s Michael Provenzano to the line for two shots, preventing a game-tying 3-pointer. Provanzano made his first and missed the second giving SFU a shot at an offensive rebound which they gathered. The Clan got up two last-second 3-points attempts to try to win the game but they both came up short and Abdul corralled the final rebound.
Abdul scored a career-high 26 points in the game while leading the ‘Jackets with 9 rebounds. The forward shot 80 percent (8-for-10) from the floor and converted all eight of his free throw attempts. As a team, the ‘Jackets made a season-high 20 free throws on just 22 attempts while the Clan converted 8 of 12 shots from the line.
Simon Fraser held a one-point 32-31 lead at the half after the ‘Jackets had led by as many as six in the period. Abdul scored 16 in the opening 20 minutes including six free throws while Rollins was 0-for-1 after 10 minutes of play in the opening period.
In the second half, Rollins took over scoring more than half of the Yellowjackets’ 47 points. Abdul and Kobe Terashima were the only other ‘Jackets to make multiple field goals in the period. Kendall Denham had four of his five assist in the second half as he set up two Rollins’ threes and a pair of Abdul layups.
Terashima had another signature game as he scored 10 points to add to his six rebounds and five assists. MSUB had just six bench points as the injury depleted lineup had Denham, Terashima and Abdul on the floor for more than 37 minutes of the 40 minute contest. Kamal Tall had a block, steal and two points for the bench unit and Sven Jeuschede made a 3-pointer to go with three assists and three rebounds.
The Yellowjackets will finish the season with four consecutive home games starting with Saint Martin’s and Seattle Pacific next week. Both games will be the front-end of MSUB Basketball doubleheaders with the women’s games against Concordia and Western Oregon to follow. The games start Thursday at 5:15 p.m. with Saint Martin’s. Seattle Pacific will come to town for a 5:15 p.m. tip on Saturday. MSUB was winless on their trip to Washington face the Saints and Falcons earlier this season.