(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – In the most comprehensive winning performance of the season, the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team dispatched Seattle Pacific University 92-63 Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game.
The ‘Jackets led by as many as 41 points and trailed only in the opening minute of the contest. Brendan Howard had 20 points (7-for-11) to lead the Yellowjackets and Seth Christiaens posted 10 points and a pair of blocks to positively impact the game for MSUB. Tyler Green had 19 points and shot 6-for-12 and Zack Rollins created 13 points for MSUB.
The Yellowjackets (10-8, 5-5 GNAC) moved into a tie with Western Washington (11-9, 5-5 GNAC) for sixth place in the GNAC Standings. MSUB shot a season high 57-percent field goal percentage and held the Falcons to 43-percent from the floor. MSU Billings also shot 52-percent (10-for-19) from beyond the arc. Green led the long range shooting with four 3-pointers on eight attempts.
“We talk about getting a lead and trying to build it,” said head coach Mick Durham. “Great performance for us tonight. I thought we really left no doubt in the first four minutes of the second half and that was really what we wanted to see. I think there has been a lot of growth by our guys. They were down a couple guys due to injury but we know every GNAC game is going to be tough.”
The ‘Jackets extended their first half lead to 26-10 after a 9-0 run early in the game and continued to score with efficiency heading into the break. Christiaens had a pair of put-back dunks in the final minutes and Zack Rollins put away a two handed dunk off a Falcon turnover to give MSUB the lead 55-24 at halftime. Seattle Pacific struggled offensively and shot just 26.9-percent in the first 20 minutes of the game.
The Yellowjackets offense was relentless in the second half as they extended the lead to 79-38 (41 points) with 11:26 remaining and held on with ease the rest of the way. Nikhil Lizotte led the Falcons with 23 points (8-for-15) and Divant’e Moffitt (13 points) and Sam Simpson (10 points) also made it to double figures for Seattle Pacific.
The Yellowjackets scored 50 points in the paint compared to 22 for the Falcons. MSUB also had 27 points off turnovers versus 13 for SPU. In assist to turnover margin, the ‘Jackets had 20 assists compared to 10 turnovers.
“The assists and turnovers was one of the things I wanted to focus on when I got the job before the season,” Durham said. “Credit goes to our guys for really working hard on that aspect and it showed tonight.”
NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets continue their four game homestand with games against Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene next week.
THE BUZZ: Seth Christiaens was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for the Yellowjackets…MSUB improved to 31-43 all-time against Seattle Pacific and is 22-12 in Billings against SPU…MSUB held Seattle Pacific to 24 points in the first half which was the lowest first half point total of the year for SPU…It was also only the third time this season SPU has been held to under 70 points (Jan 22 vs. Saint Martin’s and Nov. 23 vs. St. Cloud State).