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MSU Billings women grind out win at NCAA D2 Daytona Beach Shootout

Posted at 4:52 PM, Dec 18, 2018
MSUB Athletics photo

(MSU Billings release)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the 12th time in the 45-year history of Montana State University Billings women’s basketball, the Yellowjackets won without reaching 50 points as they clawed their way to a 48-47 victory over Maryville University Tuesday at the Ocean Center Arena in the 2018 NCAA D2 Daytona Beach Shootout.

Vanessa Stavish laid in the game-winning bucket with 3.3 seconds left on the clock, and the ‘Jackets created a turnover on the Saints’ ensuing inbound pass to secure the victory. Freshman Taryn Shelley had the finest game of her young college career, propelling her team to victory with a 19-point, 15-rebound double-double. Stavish finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, helping MSUB overcome its third-straight game with only six points in the opening quarter.

The ‘Jackets improved to 4-3 on the season with the win. “It was nice to come from behind and get the win,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “Taryn had her best game of the year and Brina hit a big three for us late. Vanessa did a nice job of rebounding the weak side on the winning basket. Give our players credit, because they had a lot of adversity to deal with but continued to believe in one another and found a way to win.”

While MSUB started slow, the Saints did as well with just eight points in the opening 10 minutes and a 19-18 lead at halftime. Maryville led 35-31 after three quarters, but was out-scored 17-12 over the final 10 minutes as they fell to 5-4 on the season. Erin Lenahan led her team with 14 points while Kayla Steward added 10 and Taylor Kirby grabbed a team-best nine rebounds.

The ‘Jackets made just 1 of 16 three on the day (6.3 percent), but the one that went in was one of the biggest shots of the game. Brina Hull drained a corner three with two minutes remaining, pulling the ‘Jackets within one down 43-42. A block by Shelley on the other end led to a left-handed finish by Janessa Williams, as MSUB took a 44-43 advantage.

Williams had four big points during MSUB’s late fourth-quarter push, while Jeanann Lemelin played pesky defense and came within one of her career high with six rebounds. “We really struggled offensively from the perimeter, but we hung in there,” Woodin said. “Jeanann did an excellent job today, guarding well and leading us down the stretch. Janessa also sparked us in the fourth quarter with her play at both ends.”

MSUB limited Maryville to a shooting percentage of just 28.8 (19-for-66), the lowest by a ‘Jacket opponent since Central Washington shot 28.1 on Feb. 8, 2018 in MSUB’s 78-58 triumph. Tuesday was MSUB’s fewest points in a game since it scored 42 on Jan. 28, 2017 in a 66-42 loss at the University of Alaska.

A mid-range jumper by Shelley marked the only field goal by either team in the opening three minutes of play, as both sides got off to a slow start. The Saints got into a groove with a 7-0 run, and a three by Mary Barton pushed Woodin to call a timeout with his team trailing 8-2 late in the first. MSUB started the game 1-for-14 from the field and seven of Maryville’s first eight points were scored off five Yellowjacket turnovers.

Stavish converted a layup with 36 seconds left in the first, and then fed a nice pass to Shelley for a last-second bucket to make it 8-6 after 10 minutes of play. Shelley grabbed her fifth board of the opening half, then returned the favor to Stavish with a pass underneath for a layup that pulled MSUB to its first lead at 18-17 just before the break.

Completing a three-point play early on in the second half, Shelley helped the ‘Jackets keep pace as they led 23-21 with 6:01 to go in the third quarter.

Hull and Shelley made back-to-back shots to open the fourth quarter, cutting the spread to 37-35 as MSUB stayed in the game. The Saints scored the next six points however, and MSUB called a timeout trailing by eight with just under six minutes to go. A game-defining 11-4 run by MSUB followed, as the ‘Jackets made five of their final nine shots.

“Alisha (Breen) and Bobbi (Knudsen) did a great job with the defensive game plan and scouting, and our defense today was definitely the main reason we won,” Woodin said. “We didn’t get to the foul line a lot, but going 9-for-9 when we did was important.”

MSUB shot just 31.7 percent overall in the game (19-for-60), which was its lowest shooting percentage in a win since a mark of 29.6 on Dec. 30, 2017 in a 58-56 win at Saint Martin’s. The 47 points scored by Maryville were the fewest by an MSUB opponent since the ‘Jackets topped Western Washington 48-46 on Feb. 19, 2016 in Bellingham, Washington. That was also the last time MSUB scored fewer than 50 points in a win, and is the only other time since 1989 the ‘Jackets have won without reaching the half-century mark. Ten of the school’s 12 sub-50 point wins came between 1974 and 1989 and eight of those came in the first five years between 1974-79.

“Tomorrow will be a tremendous challenge for us,” Woodin said. “Angelo State was very impressive in their win today in the earlier game. It will be good for us to play another quality opponent.”

THE BUZZ: Shelley was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…both point and rebound totals were her season high…it was the most productive double-double by a Yellowjacket since Alisha Breen had a 21-point, 16-rebound effort in a 78-58 win at Central Washington on Feb. 8, 2018…MSUB is now 1-0 all-time against Maryville University…Tuesday marked the third straight game MSUB managed just six points in the opening quarter…Hannah Collins had the first two blocks of her career.

NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets take on No. 21 Angelo State University on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Mountain in their final game of the 2018 calendar year. The Belles topped Urbana University 95-55 earlier Tuesday at Ocean Center Arena.