(Editor’s Note:MSU Billings Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Five Yellowjacket players reached double figure point totals and the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team prevailed over Rocky Mountain College 79-73 at Fortin Center in an exhibition game Monday night. Melvin Newbern Jr. led the scoring with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting and 5-for-5 free throws.
Zack Rollins was right behind with 17 points (6-for17) while Brendan Howard (13 pts), Zharon Richmond (13 pts) and Sven Jeuschede (11 pts) all chipped in on the strong offensive night for MSUB.
“Great team win tonight,” commented head coach Mick Durham. “We built a lead from the start and I was proud of our ability to hold off a good team like Rocky. I was also very impressed with the crowd and the energy in the building for my first MSUB/Rocky game.”
MSU Billings held a lead throughout the entire game and went ahead by as many as 13 before Rocky Mountain closed the gap to one with just under 1:34 to play on two Jared Samuelson free throws. Howard came down with an offensive rebound off a 3-point miss by Rollins and Newbern Jr. immediately cashed in a layup for a three-point play to put the ‘Jackets ahead by four.
“We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys and obviously the pass Tyler Green made to Newbern Jr. for the three-point play sealed it,” Durham said.
After Newbern’s made free throw, the Battlin’ Bears hurried the ball up the floor but a Satchel McDonald mishandled it at the top of the key, allowing Tyler Green to grab a steal and burn more time off the clock. More made free throws by Newbern Jr. on the offensive end of the floor eventually gave the Yellowjackets the 79-73 victory.
Montana State Billings led most offensive categories including points off turnovers (10-9), bench points (13-5), and fast break points (4-2). The Yellowjackets also outshot the Battlin’ Bears 42.6-percent to 38.7-percent and made 11-for-35 from 3-point range (31-percent). Meanwhile the Bears shot 26-percent from beyond the arc (6-for-23). Rollins led all players with five made 3-pointers on 14 attempts.
Jared Samuelson paced Rocky Mountain with 19 points (7-for-17). Samuelson also had nine rebounds and one block. Danny Betcher (16 pts), Craig Wilmore (15 pts), and Clayton Ladine (11 pts) also made it to double figures for the Bears.
On defense, Rocky Mountain led the in total rebounds 45-42. Seth Christiaens contributed four blocks off the MSUB bench and the Yellowjackets finished with eight blocks overall compared to four for RMC.
For the first time this season, MSU Billings shot 100-percent from the free throw line going 10-for-10. Rocky Mountain College shot 9-for 13 from the charity stripe (69.2-percent).
FIRST HALF: The Yellowjackets opened the first half with a 10-2 run and carried the momentum into a nine-point halftime lead. A late charge by the Battlin’ Bears was staved off by Christiaens. After back-to-back turnovers led to odd man opportunities for Rocky Mountain, Christiaens stayed strong in the paint and swatted away both fast break shots. Zharon Richmond punctuated a good first half with a long-range three pointer at the buzzer to send MSUB to the locker room up 39-30.
Richmond led all players with 13 points in the first half. Billings native Samuelson had 11 points in the first 20-minutes for Rocky Mountain College. The Yellowjackets outshot RMC .467 to .317 and connected on seven from beyond the arc compared to three for the Battlin’ Bears.
NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets are back home to host the MSUB Thanksgiving Tournament beginning Friday, November 23. MSU Billings will play California State University Dominguez Hills at 7:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Black Hills State University Saturday, November 24 at 7:30 p.m. Live video and stats will be available online. After the conclusion of the tournament, the ‘Jackets remain home for four more games, leading off with their first GNAC opponent Alaska Fairbanks on November 27.
THE BUZZ: Melvin Newbern Jr. earned St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for the third time this season. Newbern Jr. leads the Yellowjackets in points per game this season….MSU Billings will play Rocky Mountain College again on December 8 at Alterowitz Gymnasium. That game will be included in the team’s regular season record.