(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – After winning four straight games and six of the last seven, the men’s basketball team at Montana State University Billings is preparing for its’ final game of December against Dickinson State University. The Yellowjackets play the Blue Hawks on Tuesday, December 17 at 7 p.m. at Alterowitz Gymnasium in a non-conference game, finishing off a six game homestand which began on November 23.
Fresh off a 96-85 win over rival Rocky Mountain College, MSU Billings has early momentum in its’ 2018-19 campaign. The ‘Jackets are 6-3 overall and 2-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Dickinson State is 3-6 and competes in the North Star Athletic Association. With conference matchups set to resume in early January, Tuesday night will be an opportunity for MSUB to go undefeated in December.
“With one more game before break, I think the team will be excited to play this last one,” commented head coach Mick Durham. “It’s more about us than them, just making sure we stay sharp because we want to keep our confidence level high heading into the break. We took a couple days off for finals but now we are back to practicing and I’m hoping we can finish December strong.”
LAST TIME OUT: Four players had 10 or more points for Montana State Billings and the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears led for just two minutes to open the game before MSUB took over for good. Tyler Green led the scoring for MSUB and Melvin Newbern Jr. earned his third double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Zack Rollins and Brendan Howard chipped in offensively with 16 and 15 points respectively.
“I thought we balanced our scoring well and got the ball inside to help our jumpers,” said Durham after Saturday night’s game. “I was really pleased with the start we had. We did miss a few critical free throws but all-in-all we did a good job.”
TYLER GREEN GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The Great Northwest Athletic Conference named Montana State University Billings junior guard Tyler Green men’s basketball player of the week for the second time this season on last Monday. Green had a career high 34 points last Saturday night, helping the Yellowjackets to a 96-85 victory over Rocky Mountain College at home.
Green’s 34 points was a single game high for any player in the GNAC this season. It was also the most points scored by an MSUB player since Preston Beverly had 35 in January, 2017. Against Rocky Mountain College, Green did the most damage from beyond the arc and sank seven three pointers in the first half on just eight attempts. He finished 8-for-13 from downtown and shot 11-for-16 from the field (.688). MSU Billings has won GNAC player of the week for men’s basketball each of the last three weeks with Zack Rollins winning once and Green picking up the award for the second time.
Green ranks No. 13 in NCAA Division II for three-point field goal percentage at 54.0 percent. He has made 24-of-63 and is the top ranked outside shooter in the GNAC. Green is also the only player under 5-foot-10 in the top 50.
SPREAD OUT SCORING: With five players averaging 10 or more points per game, the Yellowjackets have shown they are capable of scoring. Green leads with 16.1 ppg. Zack Rollins is second with 14.6 and a single-game high 30 against Alaska Anchorage last week. Brendan Howard continues to find success driving the lane and stands at 14.4 ppg, despite coming off the bench in each of the previous four games. Melvin Newbern Jr. is fourth at 13.0 points per game and Zharon Richmond has increased his productivity and is up to 10.0 ppg. with four recent starts.
Scouting Dickinson State University
Game Day: Tuesday, December 17 – 7 p.m.
2018-19 Record: 3-7, (0-1 North Star), 0-3 home, 0-1 away, 3-3 neutral
Head Coach: Josh Vaughan (2nd season)
2017-18 Record: 16-13 (9-7 North Star), 9-4 home, 6-9 away, 1-0 neutral
The Blue Hawks roster features one senior, six juniors, two sophomores, and four freshmen. They were forced to replace all five starters from a senior heavy squad in 2017-18 that finished two games above .500 in the North Star Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Dickinson State suffered an 86-76 loss to Jamestown on Friday night after beating Montana State University Northern the previous week 76-66. Kenny Jackson scored 23 points against the Jimmies and Melvin Collins added in 20. The Blue Hawks shot 43.3-percent from the field and 37-percent from 3-point range. They also made 8-of-10 free throws (80-percent) and were out-rebounded in the game 37-32.
Dickinson State is 1-6 over its’ last seven outings. They average 74 points per game and allow 78 points per game. Senior forward Melvin Collins leads the offense with 14 points per game and is the only player on the roster to start all 10 contests this season. Collins recorded a double-double against Presentation College with 19 points and 11 rebounds on December 1.
Junior guard Kenny Jackson has contributed 12.2 points per game and sophomore guard Travon Hamilton has averaged 11.7 ppg. for the Blue Hawks. The DSU starting lineup against Jamestown included Jackson, Collins, Hamilton, Michael Vandall, and Donte Walker. The Blue Hawks bench combined for just nine total points in the loss to the Jimmies.
“Dickinson State has a lot of junior college guys so they are an experienced group,” commented Durham. “They have been playing well lately but still looking for some consistency. They’ve had Northern and Rocky on the ropes so they are very similar to a Frontier conference team and we know they garner respect. They have a couple quick guards and a couple guys who can score inside so it will be a good game for us heading into the break.”
The Yellowjackets have a lengthy history with Dickinson State with games dating back to 1933. MSU Billings is 35-35 all-time against the Blue Hawks and 22-14 at home. MSUB has won the last 12 meetings but the two teams have not played since the ‘Jackets won 82-66 on December 16, 2011 in Billings.