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MSU Billings men push UNLV to brink, fall in final seconds

Posted at 2:07 PM, Nov 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-03 21:04:56-04
MSUB Athletics photo

(MSU Billings release)

LAS VEGAS – Kris Clyburn drove to the paint and made a layup for University of Nevada Las Vegas with 1.2 seconds left on the clock as the Montana State University Billings basketball team fell 83-81 in exhibition action Friday night at Thomas and Mack Center in front of a crowd of 7,032.

It looked as if the Yellowjackets had secured an overtime session against their Division I counterpart after freshman Brendan Howard squeezed the basketball to his chest and drove the lane with 8.1 seconds left but UNLV had just enough time to counter on the other end of the floor to secure victory before time expired.

Zack Rollins had 23 points and went 9-of-17 from the field while making five 3-pointers to lead the Yellowjackets. Melvin Newbern Jr. also had 12 points and Tyler Green finished with 11. Meanwhile, four players scored double figures for UNLV. Shakur Juiston had 16 points and 10 rebounds while Mbacke Diong scored 15 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the double-double effort.

“The second half was really good for us offensively,” commented head coach Mick Durham after the game. “I thought we did a really good job coming back after being behind by six at halftime. Zack (Rollins) didn’t get off to a great start shooting but really played well for us later on. Newbern, Green, and Brendan also made shots for us and Seth went 4-for-4 shooting in 16 minutes on the court which was very good.”

FIRST HALF BREAKDOWN: The lead changed hands 15 times throughout the game and was tied at six junctures. Montana State Billings rattled in five 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game to get off to a hot start. Nine players scored points for MSUB in the first half, including five each from Zack Rollins and Tyler Green. After extending the lead to five (the largest of the night 29-24), the Rebels went on a 10-point run to go into halftime ahead by six 34-29.

SECOND HALF BREAKDOWN: Coming out of the break, Zack Rollins began knocking down shots. UNLV responded with tighter defense on the ‘Jacket senior forward but Rollins continued to find the twine, punctuated nicely by a fade away 3-pointer from well beyond the arc near the midway point of the second half.

Newbern Jr. also came alive in the second half and posted 10 of his 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting to help the Yellowjackets. The Rebels led 70-65 with 5:26 to play but points put up by Seth Christiaens, Richmond, Rollins, and Sven Jeushede helped close the gap once again.

After Howard made his layup and the ensuing free-throw with 8.6 seconds remaining, Clyburn drove to the rim and put a shot off the glass and in to seal the win for UNLV. The ‘Jackets failed to run the entire length of the floor in the final second of the game to attempt one last shot.

“We lost to a good team tonight, but this is definitely a confidence builder heading into the regular season and the conference schedule,” Durham said. “We didn’t feel too great after Tuesday night’s loss so playing well against UNLV is really going to help us moving forward.”

BY THE NUMBERS: The Rebels narrowly outshot the Yellowjackets 48-percent to 47-percent but MSUB made 13 shots from 3-point range compared to four for UNLV. The Rebels grabbed 50 rebounds while the Yellowjackets managed 31 and the ‘Jackets turned over the ball eight times versus 13 turnovers in the game for the Rebels.

NEXT UP: Montana State Billings (0-0, 0-0 GNAC) begins the regular season November 9 in non-conference competition against Point Loma Nazarene University. The Yellowjackets home opener is November 14 against University of Mary at 7 p.m.

THE BUZZ: Zack Rollins made five 3-point shots to secure St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for MSUB. Rollins played 30 minutes and had 23 points.