(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Zack Rollins scored 30 points and shot 9-for-15 from the floor, helping the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team defeat University of Alaska Anchorage 89-74 Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game.
The Yellowjackets moved to 2-0 in the GNAC with wins over Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage this week. Brendan Howard had 19 point for MSUB and Zharon Richmond chipped in 16.
“After we won on Tuesday, I wasn’t sure how we would respond but our guys were determined and ready to go tonight,” commented head coach Mick Durham. “We played pretty consistent even though it was a little rough at the end trying to finish it. We made our free throws and in the second half we were able to build the lead and maintain it for the most part, which was really critical. It was a good start and it was important to defend our home court.”
The Yellowjackets took control of the game early and continued to carry momentum into the second half. After shooting 63 percent (17-for-27) from the floor, MSU Billings took a 43-27 lead into halftime. Then in the second half, the ‘Jackets never relented and led by as many as 21 before fouls in the last five minutes of the game helped the Seawolves close the gap marginally.
The Yellowjackets were strong in most facets offensively. MSUB put up 42 points in the paint and shot 30-for-54 from the floor. From beyond the arc, the ‘Jackets went 8-for-20 (40 percent) and made 21-of-25 free throw attempts. Rollins was perfect from the line making 9-of-9 free throws.
Alaska Anchorage rebounded well in the first ten minutes of the game but the Yellowjackets slowly began to cut down the rebound deficit. UAA outrebounded MSUB in the game 33-31 but Brendan Howard led all players with eight rebound, missing his first career double-double by just a pair.
Zharon Richmond shot the basketball well and went 6-for-9 on field goals as well as 2-for-4 from three point range. Richmond added two free throws, one steal, one block, and three assists to his statistics and turned in one of his best performances of the season.
Montana State Billings scored 25 points off turnovers compared to 16 for Alaska Anchorage. UAA outscored MSUB off the bench 30-26. Howard contributed 21 of the ‘Jackets 26 bench points.
Four players reached double figure scoring for Alaska Anchorage including Brian Pearson (17 pts, five reb), Sjur Berg (13 pts, five reb), Brennan Rymer (10 pts, six reb), and Tyler Brimhall (10 pts, three reb). UAA shot 46 percent from the floor and 16 percent (4-for-25) from beyond the arc.
“Our guys should feel good going into Christmas break 2-0,” Durham said “We have a long ways to go and we’ve talked about that. Our team has worked hard the last couple days getting ready and it showed especially defensively. We just have to make sure we keep working hard and getting better every game.”
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Yellowjackets (5-3, 2-0 GNAC) host Rocky Mountain College in their next game on December 8 at 7 p.m. for EMC Throwback Night at Alterowitz Gymnasium.
THE BUZZ: Zack Rollins earned St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for his season high 31 point performance. Rollins played 29 minutes and had three rebounds and two steals…The Yellowjackets snapped a three game losing streak against the Seawolves and improved to 32-45 all-time against Alaska Anchorage.