(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Strong shooting and early momentum helped the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team to a fifth straight victory Tuesday night as they prevailed 78-61 over Dickinson State University in a non-conference matchup at Alterowitz Gymnasium. The Yellowjackets never trailed in the game and five players recorded double figure point totals, culminating in a 49-percent field goal percentage for MSUB.
“It was good for us to get the win tonight,” commented head coach Mick Durham after the game. “It wasn’t easy. We had a good start and it was a battle going into halftime. I really applaud our guys defensively in the second half. We had a goal to keep them (Dickinson State) under 70 points and we were able to do that so I was happy with the effort tonight.”
Making field goals on four of their first five possessions, the Yellowjackets jumped out to a 9-0 lead to begin the game and expanded to a 19-6 advantage after a 3-point play by Melvin Newbern Jr. The Blue Hawks began to find their range after a cold start and eventually tied the game 32-32 but MSUB clamped down on defense in the final five minutes to go into halftime ahead 43-36.
Zack Rollins was 4-for-6 from the floor for 12 points in the opening 20 minutes and the ‘Jackets shot 60-percent as a team in the first half, including 42-percent from 3-point range. Zharon Richmond and Newbern Jr. had four boards each and Donte Walker led all players with 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting for the Blue Hawks.
After trading threes to start the second half, back-to-back dunks by Rollins and Richmond stretched the MSUB lead to 14. Dickinson State tightened defensively to keep the game within a dozen points. Leading 69-60 with under four minutes to play, Tyler Green heaved a pass the length of the court to give Howard an easy layup and kept a stranglehold on the scoreboard for MSUB. The teams traded baskets in the final five minutes and MSUB ran out the clock for a convincing victory.
Zack Rollins led MSU Billings with 18 points and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Rollins also contributed four steals and three assists.
Richmond had arguably his best performance of the season with 14 points (7-for-12 shooting) and eight rebounds. He added a block and an assist in the final minute of the game for MSUB.
Tyler Green scored 12 points (4-for-10) fresh off his second GNAC player of the week distinction and competently distributed the basketball with a season high six assists. Newbern Jr. turned in 11 points (5-for-11) and added three assists while Brendan Howard contributed 12 points off the bench in the winning effort.
The Yellowjackets went 3-0 in December and 5-1 in a homestand that began on November 23 with a tournament loss to California State University, Dominguez Hills.
WHAT’S AHEAD: The Yellowjackets (7-3, 2-0 GNAC) have the remainder of December off before they resume play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference on January 3. The ‘Jackets will play road games against Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington before returning to Billings on January 10 to play the defending GNAC post-season champions Western Oregon Wolves. Dickinson State (3-7) takes on University of Montana Western on December 28.
THE BUZZ: Zharon Richmond was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for the Yellowjackets. Richmond had 14 points, eight rebounds, one assist, and made a late block in the final minute of the game for MSUB…The Yellowjackets improved to 36-35 all-time against the Blue Hawks and have won 13 straight games against DSU.