(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Starting slow and never catching up Friday night, the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team suffered a 65-50 exhibition defeat at the hands of No. 18 Rocky Mountain College on EMC Throwback Night at Alterowitz Gym.
The Yellowjackets managed just six points in the opening quarter, as RMC built a 5-0 lead and led from start-to-finish. The Bears shot an efficient 51.1 percent on the evening (24-for-47), while making 4 of 9 threes (44.4 percent).
MSUB remained 3-3 overall on the year and Rocky stayed at 8-1 after the exhibition affair. Hannah Collins led MSUB in scoring with 13 points, while adding a game-high six assists. Vanessa Stavish also reached double figures with a dozen points, and Taryn Shelley led all players with 11 rebounds.
Markaela Francis led a quartet of RMC double-figure scorers, as she made 6 of 13 shots and 4 of 6 free throws for 16 points. Alecia Chamberlin had 13, and Kloie Thatcher and Marissa Van Atta each had 10 with the former leading her team with eight rebounds. Overall Rocky out-rebounded MSUB 39-30, and avenged its bitter 63-62 defeat at the hands of MSUB on November 6 at the Fortin Center.
A layup by Jeanann Lemelin broke a game-opening offensive drought of nearly 2:30, but it was the only scoring MSUB did until Shelley hit a pair of free throws with two minutes left in the first. By then, Rocky had established a 12-4 advantage during the ice cold shooting spell by the ‘Jackets.
Alexi Smith connected on a corner three early on in the second quarter, pushing MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin to call a timeout with his team facing a 26-11 deficit. The Bears had success keeping Collins, MSUB’s leading scorer on the season, quiet for the majority of the opening half. The sophomore point guard converted her first bucket at the 6:30 mark in the second quarter, and hit her team’s first trey of the night three minutes later.
The Bears continued to stretch the lead out however, with Antuanisha Wright answering with a three of her own to make it a 31-19 game.
MSUB made a push in the third quarter, and gave itself hope entering the final period of play. Taylor Edwards had five quick points, including her first three of the night, and after a block by Shelley the ‘Jackets cut the deficit to 10 points. Collins had another key driving layup but each time MSUB scored the Bears retaliated to keep their cushion in double figures.
Thatcher hit a key three and then converted a layup late in the fourth, making the score 60-47 with just 2:15 left to play. That effectively ended MSUB’s comeback attempt, on a night where the ‘Jackets shot just 33.3 percent (20-for-60) overall and 26.3 percent (5-for-19) from 3-point range.
Lemelin played pesky defense throughout the game, and finished with eight points and three rebounds in 32 strong minutes. Edwards also finished the night with eight points, connecting on a pair of treys in five attempts.
THE BUZZ: Lemelin was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…the ‘Jackets were without junior Taylor Cunningham, their second-leading scorer and rebounder, for the first time this season due to injury…MSUB went 3-1 against NAIA top-25 opponents this season.
AHEAD: The ‘Jackets are off until the 2018 NCAA D2 Daytona Beach Shootout, running December 18-19 in Florida. MSUB will play Maryville University and Angelo State University in its final non-conference games of the season. Live coverage for the games will be available through www.msubsports.com.