(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Alisha Breen had a 31-point, 11-rebound double-double on Senior Night, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team in a 77-65 loss to Great Northwest Athletic Conference foe Western Oregon University at Alterowitz Gym on Saturday.
The Wolves (11-13, 7-11 GNAC) ripped off a 34-15 fourth quarter as the Yellowjackets watched their 50-43 lead after 30 minutes evaporate. “Tonight was a difficult loss, as we just didn’t play as well as I thought we would,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “Unfortunately in the fourth quarter we had a hard time guarding and we didn’t shoot the ball very well. Western Oregon chipped away and took the lead, and they just out-executed us down the stretch. They were very prepared and their coaches did a great job.”
Shelby Snook led the Wolves with 25 points and four assists, while Sydney Azorr had an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double. Savannah Heugly was also in double figures with 10 points, and Kaylie Boschma had a dozen boards to lead all players.
In her final game at Alterowitz Gym, senior Rylee Kane scored 12 points and led all players with six assists in 36 minutes. Vanessa Stavish was also in double figures with 10 points, and she added five rebounds.
The Yellowjackets (18-10, 11-7 GNAC) missed their first seven shots of the game, and trailed 9-6 with 3:41 to go in the opening quarter. Snook meanwhile scored the first nine points of the game for the Wolves, who had a 20-11 advantage by the end of the period.
Brina Hull came off the bench to knock down a trey at the beginning of the second, sparking a rally by the ‘Jackets that closed the gap. A layup by Breen with 4:08 to go until the half brought the ‘Jackets within one down 24-23, and she countered a trey by Snook with one of her own over the next two possessions. Kane drained a short jumper just before the break, cutting the deficit to just 32-30 at halftime.
Snook and Breen once again traded threes to open the third quarter, with the former scoring 12 straight MSUB points to pull the ‘Jackets ahead for the first time 42-41. Neither team scored over the next three minutes of play, but the ‘Jackets continued their push and a three by Kane made it a 47-41 lead.
In the blink of an eye, MSUB’s edge vanished as WOU pulled off a 13-2 run to open the fourth quarter. The Wolves kicked off the quarter with a bang, with Azorr drilling an open look from the corner to give her team the lead once again, 51-50. Jasmine Miller made a layup with 2:54 to go, giving the Wolves an eight-point advantage at 62-54 and MSUB never threatened to get back into it after that.
“We struggled early in the game, but we settled in and in the third quarter we played our best of the night,” Woodin said. “We just didn’t play well tonight overall however. We need to respond next week in the way that I know we can.”
The Yellowjackets shot 35.4 percent from the field (23-for-65) and made 7 of 23 threes on the night (30.4 percent). The Wolves hit at a clip of 40.4 percent from the floor (23-for-57) and made 7 of 17 treys (41.2 percent). WOU held a 44-35 advantage in rebounding, including 10 offensive boards for 11 second-chance points. The ‘Jackets generated 16 WOU turnovers, but committed 13 on the offensive end.
SENIOR NIGHT: Breen, Kane, Lexi Prevost, Grace Weeks, and Rachel Koehler were honored in a ceremony after the game, after competing for the final time at home. “Our five seniors have really represented our team and our school so well this year, and I am proud of all they have accomplished,” Woodin said. “I am looking forward to the rest of the season with each of them.”
THE BUZZ: Breen was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 25-7 all-time against WOU and is 12-3 in home games…MSUB snapped a five-game winning streak in the series against the Wolves…Saturday marked Breen’s sixth-career 30-point game, tying her for third-most 30-point games in GNAC history…it was Breen’s 14th double-double of the year, and the 21st of her career which is tied for 16th-most in conference history…Breen moved into a tie for fourth place in GNAC career scoring with 1,783 points (Jordan Wilson, Alaska, 2013-17)…Breen moved to No. 4 in MSUB history with 799 career rebounds.
COMING UP: Before their trip to Anchorage, Alaska for the 2018 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships, the Yellowjackets will close the regular season on the road next week. MSUB plays at Simon Fraser University at 8 p.m. Mountain time on Feb. 22 and at Western Washington University at 8 p.m. Mountain time on Feb. 24.