(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Tyler Green found his scoring touch and the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team snapped a three game losing skid with a win over Concordia Portland 80-69 in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium.
Green led all players with 23 points on 6-for-13 shooting for the Yellowjackets. The two time GNAC player of the week also had four 3-pointers and made 7 of 9 free throws. The infusion of scoring by Green helped keep the ‘Jackets ahead of the Cavaliers for the entire night and MSUB led by as many as 17 with 3:31 to go in the second half before closing it out.
MSU Billings shot 45-percent from the floor and 23 percent from 3-point range. Concordia meanwhile shot 42-percent and made 25-percent of attempts from beyond the arc. In what could be described as a scrappy game by both teams, the Yellowjackets grinded out a win, despite committing 17 turnovers and having the basketball stolen 10 times.
“I thought we had good contributions from a few guys tonight,” commented assistant coach Bobby Howard. “Tyler and Zharon both bounced back for good games. We’d still like to finish games a bit better but we certainly were happy to get the win.”
After allowing an average of 95 points per game to opponents over their last three contests, the Yellowjackets held the Cavaliers to 69 points Saturday night, due in part to their propensity for grabbing rebounds. MSUB out-rebounded CU 40-29 and had 19 second chance points compared to 13 for Concordia University.
The Yellowjackets (8-6, 3-3 GNAC) remained in playoff position with the win, fifth place in the GNAC. They trail Western Oregon (12-3, 5-1), Seattle Pacific (8-3, 5-1), Northwest Nazarene (10-2, 5-1), and Saint Martin’s (11-2, 4-1) in the conference standings. Concordia (6-8, 1-5) remained tied for last place with the loss.
Zharon Richmond contributed 16 points to tie his season high and made 8 of 9 free throws. Richmond also had nine rebounds, one short of his first career double-double. Brendan Howard had 13 points off the bench along with five boards.
“Brendan off the bench got going and gave us some big minutes after Melvin got in foul trouble,” Howard said. “We’ve been getting four or five guys a night into double-figures so hopefully that will continue to make us hard to guard as we move forward.”
In sharp contrast to Thursday night, the Yellowjackets shot an effective 80.8 percent from the free throw line totaling 16-for-19 attempts. MSUB also had 24 points off turnovers compared to 21 for Concordia.
FIRST HALF BREAKDOWN: The Yellowjackets shot 54-percent in the first half, helping them to a 43-32 lead at halftime. Melvin Newbern Jr. picked up two early fouls but managed to stay in for 14 minutes. Tyler Green shot 5-for-8 for 13 points including three from downtown. Jarrett Gray had 10 points to lead the Cavaliers in the first 20 minutes as both teams battled foul trouble.
SECOND HALF BREAKDOWN: Green began the second half scoring with a quick hitting 3-pointer from well behind the line. The ‘Jackets expanded the lead to a then game high 15 before the Cavaliers cut it to 10 with 14 minutes to play. MSUB head coach Mick Durham felt compelled to call a timeout and after the break, the ‘Jackets stopped the Cavaliers’ run, capped by a Zack Rollins dunk off of a fast break assist from Sven Jeuschede. The final five minutes was choppy for both sides but the Yellowjackets prevailed in the end, dribbling out the basketball to finish the game.
“Our main goal this game was to play hard the full 40 minutes,” said Howard. “We’re a team that is still trying to figure out our identity and where we stack up but we know we belong. We’re talented enough but we just have to keep working to get to an even better position.”
NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets are back on the road next week, facing two GNAC opponents. On Thursday, the ‘Jackets will face Western Washington at 7 p.m. Saturday, the team is at Simon Fraser University for a 7 p.m. local time start.
THE BUZZ: Tyler Green was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game…MSU Billings improved to 6-2 all-time against the Cavaliers and have won three straight games against their Portland rivals…Rollins and Jeuschede led the team with 34 minutes each…Kobe Terashima and Seth Christiaens contributed a combined seven points off the bench for MSUB.