(MSUB Athletics release)
CHADRON, Neb. – Janessa Williams scored a career-high 15 points and paced the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team to a 67-59 road win over Chadron State College Friday evening at the Chicoine Center.
On a night where the Yellowjackets’ bench scored more than half its points – 34 of 67 – Williams headlined the gritty effort with an efficient 17 minutes to blast past her previous collegiate best of four points.
“It’s nice to get a road win, and I felt we played well in streaks tonight,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We need to play with a little more consistency but we were happy to come out on top. Our bench played an important role tonight, especially Janessa, Jeanann (Lemelin), and Brina (Hull). They gave us a lot of points and energy, and it was nice to see them make the most of their time.”
Taylor Cunningham co-led the team, as she also reached a career high with 15 points on the evening. Hannah Collins had 11 points and six assists, and Jeanann Lemelin topped her personal best with 10 points in 21 minutes off the bench. MSUB (2-0) won its second straight game to start the season, thanks in large part to strong defense with 14 steals that contributed to 28 giveaways by the Eagles.
“Our defense was good, and we forced them into a lot of turnovers,” Woodin said. “We need to rebound better than we did tonight. Offensively we played a really good third quarter, but in the fourth we played more like we were trying not to lose than securing the win.”
CSC (0-3) was led by a 16-point effort from Angelique Gall, and Taryn Foxen was also in double figures with 13 on 5 of 11 shooting from the floor. Three Eagles led the team with five rebounds and all but two of the 13 players utilized had at least one carom on a night where MSUB was out-boarded 46-29.
MSUB overcame a slow start, and took its first lead of the night when Collins hit a jumper with 1:02 left in the first to make it a 12-11 ballgame. It was at the start of a 15-0 run that ultimately gave MSUB a 22-11 edge early in the second, and the visitors finished the opening half strong with a 37-33 advantage at the break.
The Eagles responded well however, and wrestled a 42-40 lead two minutes into the third quarter. CSC scored just one point over the next four minutes however, while MSUB put on a game-defining 15-point swing that re-established a double-figure lead. Williams had eight of MSUB’s points during the crucial stretch, while Lemelin and Brina Hull each hit threes.
“It was nice to have some balanced scoring tonight,” said Woodin. “This is always a difficult place to play, and give Chadron credit as they would not go away.”
The Eagles made it interesting deep into the fourth quarter, as they trailed by as little as six with 2:44 remaining. They went 0-for-4 from the field, 0-for-2 from the foul line, and had three turnovers in the closing minutes however, and the ‘Jackets held on strong for the win.
Overall in the game MSUB shot 35.6 percent from the floor (21-for-59), 36.4 percent from 3-point range (8-for-22), and made 17 of 21 foul shots (81.0 percent). Comparatively, Chadron shot 40.4 percent overall (23-for-57), made just 1 of 6 threes (16.7 percent), and just 12 of 18 foul shots (66.7 percent).
THE BUZZ: Williams was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…her most recent four-point game was on Jan. 4, 2018…Williams’ 17 minutes, three rebounds, four field goals, and seven free throws were also all career highs…Cunningham’s previous career high was 12 points, which she achieved twice including last Friday against Providence…Lemelin’s previous career high was nine points, which she reached on Dec. 19, 2017 at Hawaii Pacific…Emily St. John scored her first collegiate point with a free throw…MSUB is now 15-3 all-time against CSC and has won eight straight games dating back to 2011.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets head to Rapid City, South Dakota, to face South Dakota School of Mines on Saturday evening. Tipoff against the Hardrockers is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.