(MSUB Athletics release)
BURNABY, B.C. – Rylee Kane scored a career-high 28 points but a back-and-forth battle at the West Gym went host Simon Fraser University’s way Thursday night, as the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team lost 77-74 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action.
The game rattled around within two possessions for the entirety of the fourth quarter, with each team having opportunities for the win. The Yellowjackets trailed 75-74 after a missed free throw with 26 seconds left, and a turnover by SFU gave MSUB the ball back immediately.
Rachel Koehler grabbed her own rebound on a missed layup, but her put-back attempt wouldn’t fall and the Clan won possession by virtue of a jump ball with 2.1 seconds remaining. Sophie Swant upped her team-high point total to 17 with a pair of final free throws, and the ‘Jackets ran out of time in their second straight defeat.
“Simon Fraser played very well tonight, especially from the 3-point line,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We knew going in that would be a key statistic, and they dominated us from there tonight. They had a lot of different players make shots. I liked the fight in our team tonight, especially coming back from a third-quarter deficit. The last quarter was hard fought by both teams, but SFU didn’t miss very many shots.”
Kane made 12 of 18 field goals in the game – also a career high – and added in a team-high five assists. Her layup with 4:06 to go came on the heels of an assist of hers to Alisha Breen for a three, and gave MSUB what wound up being its final lead of the night at 67-66. “Rylee was outstanding, getting into the key a lot on offense and finishing very well,” Woodin said. “She gave us a good chance with how aggressive she was on offense.”
Tia Tsang answered Kane’s lead-changing layup with the biggest of her four treys on the night, and the Clan never trailed the rest of the way. Tsang finished with 14 points, while Tayla Jackson and Jessica Jones had 16 apiece and Claudia Hart was also in double figures with a dozen. Swant finished in the neighborhood of a triple-double, adding nine rebounds and seven assists to go with her 17 points.
The Clan (14-14, 9-11 GNAC) stayed alive in the hunt for a spot in the GNAC tournament, moving into sixth place with the win on Thursday.
Breen became the first player in GNAC women’s basketball history to reach 1,800 career points and 800 career rebounds, as she finished the night with 20 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Koehler just missed a double-double with a season-high nine points and a team-best nine rebounds on a night where the ‘Jackets out-boarded the Clan 41-29. Freshman Hannah Collins was also an impact player, with eight points, three assists and a pair of rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench. “Both Hannah and Rachel provided great play off the bench,” said Woodin. “Without Rachel we would have had a larger deficit, and she played her best game of the season.”
The ‘Jackets got off to a slow start and trailed 14-12 at the end of the first quarter, and an even 19-19 second period gave SFU a narrow 33-31 advantage at the break. Swant drained a three with 6:35 to go in the third, pushing SFU ahead 45-35 for its largest lead of the night. The ‘Jackets embarked on a 15-5 run over the next several minutes however, to pull back into the game. Breen knocked down an open three from the top of the arc, and Jeanann Lemelin came through with a big block on the other end to get the ‘Jackets a stop. Breen fed Kane on a cut to the basket on the next possession, and Lemelin knocked down a pair of foul shots to knot the score at 50-50.
The Clan continued to hit big shots when they needed them, finishing the night 11-for-27 from the arc. By contrast, MSUB made just 3 of 19 threes on the evening as it failed to establish any offensive rhythm in the shooting department. Overall MSUB shot 43.1 percent from the floor (28-for-65), while SFU checked in at 46.7 percent (28-for-60).
THE BUZZ: Kane was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 9-10 all-time against SFU and is 2-6 in games played at the West Gym…Breen made it six straight games with 20 or more points scored, becoming just the ninth player in conference history to achieve that feat…Kane’s previous best offensive game was on Jan. 14, 2017 against Western Oregon, when she made 12 shots and scored 25 points.
NEXT UP: The 2017-18 regular season concludes on Saturday night with an 8 p.m. Mountain time tipoff at Western Washington University. It will be the Yellowjackets’ final contest before next week’s GNAC Championships, and live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available online through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal.