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MSU Billings women hold off Carroll College in wild finish

Posted at 5:04 PM, Nov 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-26 13:32:11-05

(MSU Billings release)

BILLINGS – Hannah Collins earned 2018 Yellowjacket Classic Most Valuable Player honors after piloting the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team to a dramatic 63-61 win over visiting Carroll College on Sunday afternoon at Alterowitz Gym.

Collins had a team-high 14 points, to go along with four rebounds, three assists, and a pair of steals while playing 38 minutes in the game. The Saints led 59-58 with 2:22 to go, but Collins drained three clutch free throws after drawing a foul on a 3-point attempt and her team never relinquished the lead.

“Carroll has a great team with a lot of experience, and this was a very good college basketball game,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “Over the last few minutes we had some good possessions, and we feel fortunate to come out on top.”

MSUB had five players in double figures on the afternoon, as Vanessa Stavish had 13 points, Taylor Cunningham and Taryn Shelley had 11 apiece, and Jeanann Lemelin added 10.

“So far we have been able to find ways to win,” Woodin said. “I was really happy with Taryn tonight, and she came off the bench and did some really good things for us. All of our team is contributing, and that is going to help us in the long run.”

The Yellowjackets remain at 3-1 on the season, as Sunday’s game was an exhibition contest on their schedule. MSUB is now 3-0 on the season against nationally-ranked NAIA teams, beating No. 24 Rocky Mountain College 63-62 on Nov. 6, and thumping No. 16 Valley City State University 79-52 two days ago.

The Saints, who entered the day No. 7 in the NAIA top-25, fell to 4-2 overall with Sunday’s game counting on their record. Hannah Dean led all players with 18 points, and just missed a double-double with nine boards. Taylor Salonen (12 points) and Brittney Johnson (11) were also in double figures for Carroll.

“We know Carroll is always a tough team, and games like this are going to be how every conference game is going to go,” Stavish commented. “It is really nice to have scoring from every position, and it was really good for us to have a game like this early in the season.”

With their team trailing 57-49 and 7:16 left in the game, Dean and Johnson went to work to turn the tables. Dean bookended back-to-back threes by Johnson with a pair of layups, and in the blink of an eye the Saints used the 10-0 run to wrestle the lead away from MSUB.

The ‘Jackets tightened up their defense down the stretch however, while Carroll went 0-for-5 shooting over the last two minutes of play. The ‘Jackets won despite being out-rebounded 37-33 and shooting just 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range two days after hitting 15 threes in the win over VCSU. Overall MSUB shot 43.4 percent from the floor (23-for-53), while Carroll hit at 38.7 percent (24-for-62).

The Saints dominated under the basket in the opening quarter, and out-rebounded the ‘Jackets 11-6 in the period. MSUB managed to stake an 18-17 lead however, thanks to efficiency in the shooting department at 7-for-14.

Collins set the tone with a three to start the second quarter, and after Cunningham drained back-to-back treys to make it 27-19 Carroll stopped the momentum with a timeout. The Saints followed with a pair of three-point plays, cutting it to a one-possession game six minutes before halftime.

Shelley helped the ‘Jackets improve their rebounding margin, as MSUB out-boarded Carroll 27-26 over the final three quarters. She and Lemelin each had five boards, while Stavish matched Dean for the game high with nine.

A trey by Sienna Swannack with just under two minutes left in the third gave Carroll a 47-46 lead, but Shelley came through with a bucket and a steal to help MSUB pull back to a 50-47 advantage with 10 minutes left to play.

The Saints out-scored the ‘Jackets 14-13 in the final quarter, and MSUB grinded out the win despite going 0-for-6 with five turnovers in the final 7:30 of action.