(Editor’s note: MSU Billings media release)
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – After coming back from a 16 point deficit in regulation, Zharon Richmond’s 3-pointer in overtime sealed an 81-72 victory for Montana State University Billings against Western Washington University Saturday night at Carver Gymnasium in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball game. The win lifted the Yellowjackets over the Vikings in the conference standings and cemented their first GNAC road triumph of the season.
Richmond made a mid-range fadeaway jump shot to tie the game with 14 seconds left in regulation, then drained a three-pointer from the bench side corner in overtime which helped seal the win for MSUB with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left.
Tyler Green led MSUB with 19 points and sparked the Yellowjackets on a 16-4 comeback run more than halfway through the second half after they trailed by as many as 16 points. Green shot 7-for-16 and had five rebounds for MSUB. He also maintained his top conference status in three point shooting by going 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.
Brendan Howard was another catalyst for the Yellowjackets in overtime and finished the night with 17 points on 7-for-19 shooting and 2 of 2 free throws. Zack Rollins made three triples in the second half and reached double-digit scoring with 15 points. Richmond ended his strong effort with 12 points.
Trailing most of the game, the Yellowjackets struggled to get their offense rolling until Tyler Green made back-to-back three pointers and sparked a 16-4 run. MSU Billings grabbed its’ first lead of the game 61-60 with just over four minutes left in regulation.
After Trevor Jaskinsky made a three pointer to briefly hand the lead back to Western Washington, Howard put on the spin cycle in the lane for a layup and Richmond hit the tying shot with 14.4 seconds left. Jasinsky tried an off balance shot at the buzzer for WWU but it clanked off the front of the rim and stayed out.
Rollins stood his ground to take a charging call in the opening minute of overtime and Howard cashed in from long range at the other end to give the ‘Jackets an early advantage 69-66. Richmond made it a two possession game with a 3-pointer from the bench side corner with 2:25 to play, then blocked a WWU second chance attempt with 44 seconds left to help MSUB hold its narrow lead. Kobe Terashima made both free throws on the ensuing possession and the Vikings were forced to foul the rest of the way, having run out of time to make up the scoring differential.
“The guys really stayed with it and kept fighting,” commented head coach Mick Durham. “Eventually, good things started to happen. We were very determined in overtime and got huge contributions from Zharon, Kobe, and Tyler. Western (Washington) is a tough place to win and hopefully we can carry this momentum forward into Saturday.”
Montana State Billings (9-6, 4-3 GNAC) moved ahead of Western Washington (10-8, 4-4 GNAC) for fifth place in the conference standings. They trail behind Saint Martin’s (13-2, 6-1), Seattle Pacific (9-3, 6-1), Northwest Nazarene (10-2, 5-1), and Western Oregon (12-4, 5-2) for the league’s top positions. Six teams will qualify for the GNAC postseason tournament in March.
The Yellowjackets struggled offensively for most of the game and trailed at halftime 39-28 on just 30-percent shooting They kept the scoring margin at a manageable distance however by forcing six first half turnovers and surrendering only one.
Western Washington shot 50-percent in the first half and 41-percent in the game. MSU Billings connected on just 30 of 76 field goal attempts, ending the night at a 39-percent shooting clip.
Jasinsky scored 24 points for Western Washington and went 9-for-18 and 4-for-10 from 3-point range. Leif Anderson had 15 points (5-for-10) and Luke Lovelady had 14 points (4-for-6, 6 of 6 free throws).
MSU Billings marked 27 bench points and had 36 points in the paint. They also scored 13 points off turnovers and turned in nine second chance points. Western Washington received nine points from the bench and had 20 points in the paint. The Vikings made six points off turnovers and seven second chance points.
Western Washington opened the game with a 13-2 run and shot 5-for-6 from the floor with a pair of three pointers. It was a sluggish start for MSUB as they began 1 of 7 and 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. Zack Rollins opened up the scoring with a three from the top of the arc and Green followed with the same shot on the following possession to get the ‘Jackets back to an 11 point deficit before halftime.
NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets finish their weekend road trip with a game Saturday night against Simon Fraser University at 7 p.m. LT in Burnaby, British Columbia.
THE BUZZ: The Yellowjackets defeated Western Washington on the road for just the second time in program history. MSUB is now 7-23 all-time against the Vikings and 2-13 away from home…Zharon Richmond was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for his late game heroics.