(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team took down a pair of teams that it had lost to in the regular season in order to claim the 2018 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships title on Saturday night in Anchorage.
Now, they’ll look to make it three straight payback wins as the Yellowjackets have earned the No. 7 seed into the NCAA Division II West Region Championships and will take on No. 2 seed and No. 19 nationally-ranked Hawaii Pacific University. The Sharks, who won the PacWest Conference Championship tournament, dealt MSUB a 79-52 loss on Dec. 19 in Honolulu.
The regional championship, which is scheduled for March 8-12, will be held at No. 1 seed Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. First-round action will begin Friday, and an interactive bracket of the full 64-team field can be found online here.
2018 NCAA D2 Women’s Basketball West Region Championships Field
Seed Team Record Conference Postseason
1 Azusa Pacific* 27-4, 18-2 PacWest PWC Champion, lost in PWC Semifinals (#1 seed)
2 Hawaii Pacific 26-3, 18-2 PacWest PWC Tournament Champion (#2 seed)
3 UC San Diego 27-4, 21-1 CCAA CCAA Champion, lost in CCAA tournament title game (#1 seed)
4 Northwest Nazarene 22-4, 18-2 GNAC GNAC Co-Champion, lost in GNAC tournament semifinals (#1 seed)
5 Alaska Anchorage 25-4, 18-2 GNAC GNAC Co-Champion, lost in GNAC tournament semifinals (#2 seed)
6 Seattle Pacific 23-7, 15-5 GNAC Lost in GNAC tournament title game (#3 seed)
7 MSU Billings 22-11, 12-8 GNAC GNAC Tournament Champion (#4 seed)
8 Humboldt State 18-12, 14-8 CCAA CCAA Tournament Champion (#3 seed)
*-Denotes host university
“I am very excited for our team and especially for our seniors to get back into the regional tournament,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “It will be a great challenge to play Hawaii Pacific again. We saw them in December and didn’t play very well against them, but we were impressed with them. We will have our hands full.”
MSUB was one of four teams from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to be selected among the eight-team regional field, along with regular-season co-champions Northwest Nazarene and Alaska Anchorage, and GNAC tournament runner-up Seattle Pacific.
The Yellowjackets were ranked No. 8 in the west region rankings entering last week’s conference tournament in Anchorage, Alaska, but left no doubt about a trip to the regional as they rattled off victories on three consecutive nights to claim their first-ever GNAC tournament title. Overall, the ‘Jackets have won four games in-a-row entering the regional tournament, after finishing in fourth place in the final GNAC standings with a league mark of 12-8.
“We are a much improved team from where we were two and a half months ago,” Woodin commented. “Our team is excited to go to California, and this will be our fifth road trip in six weeks. I feel the team is rallying around that, really coming together, and believing they can beat anyone.”
This will be MSUB’s first NCAA regional appearance since 2015-16 and the 14th overall in program history. Two years ago when the event was also held at APU, MSUB earned the No. 8 seed and fell 83-75 to the host Cougars in the opening round.
Alisha Breen, who was named Most Valuable Player of the 2018 GNAC Championships, will lead MSUB into this week’s tournament as the lone player on the roster to be appearing in her third west region championship. The GNAC Player of the Year was a key-contributing freshman during the Yellowjackets’ title-game run in 2013-14, and scored 31 points against Azusa Pacific in her last regional appearance two seasons ago.
Seniors Rylee Kane and Lexi Prevost, and juniors Vanessa Stavish, Taylor Edwards, and Brina Hull will each also bring returning regional experience after participating in the Yellowjackets’ run in the 2015-16 season.
MSUB Women’s Basketball All-Time NCAA D2 Regional Championships Appearances
Season Region Advancement Overall Record
2017-18 West Region TBA 22-11
2015-16 West Region First Round (0-1) 21-11
2013-14 West Region Championship Game (2-1) 25-8
2006-07 South Central Region First Round (0-1) 22-10
2004-05 West Region First Round (0-1) 21-7
2002-03 West Region Second Round (1-1) 21-7
2001-02 West Region First Round (0-1) 23-5
1999-00 West Region Second Round (1-1) 20-9
1998-99 West Region West Region Champion, Elite Eight (2-1) 25-6
1997-98 West Region First Round (0-1) 21-7
1996-97 West Region First Round (0-1) 18-10
1995-96 West Region Second Round (1-1) 20-9
1993-94 West Region Second Round (1-1) 19-9
1986-87 West Region First Round (0-1) 18-11
A full tournament preview, including live coverage details and a full tournament schedule will follow early this week.