(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – After leading by 27 points in the second half, the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team suffered a 92-89 overtime loss at the hands of Northwest Nazarene Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game. The Nighthawks went on a 22-1 run midway through the second half, making three pointers on four straight possessions along the way to tie the game and eventually take away the Yellowjackets hopes of an upset.
Jayden Bezzant led the Nighthawks with 27 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Bezzant was also responsible for five of NNU’s total of nine 3-pointers. Zharon Richmond had a strong night offensively for the Yellowjackets. The sophomore collected 21 points (8-for-12) and grabbed seven rebounds and one steal.
Montana State Billings (11-9, 6-6 GNAC) remained in sixth place in the conference standings with the loss. They are now four games out of first place. Northwest Nazarene (15-3, 10-2 GNAC) moved into a tie for first place with a Saint Martin’s loss earlier in the evening.
The ‘Jackets steamrolled the Nighthawks in the first half and led by 15 points at the break shooting 43-percent. MSUB committed just two turnovers compared to eight for NNU in the opening 20 minutes. Offense continued to stream out for MSUB in the early minutes of the second half, until Northwest Nazarene put on a remarkable 22-1 run which eventually helped them tie the game with 4:27 remaining 70-70. During NNU’s dominant stretch, the Nighthawks scored three pointers on four straight possessions and held the ‘Jackets to a single good free throw over five minutes, 38 seconds of play.
MSUB finally busted out of its scoring slumber when Zack Rollins cut to the back of the rim and slammed home a dunk off a long range seeing-eye pass from Kobe Terashima. NNU kept pace however and the teams traded the lead in the final minutes. Melvin Newbern Jr. made one of two free throws with 45 seconds remaining to keep the ‘Jackets ahead 80-77 but Sam Roth connected on a fadeaway three point shot with 14 ticks left to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The Yellowjackets earned an early two point advantage in the extra session, but successful layups by Adonis Arms, Bezzant, and Megwa help NNU gain the lead back. Bezzant put a dagger through the Yellowjacket hopes when he hit a three-point shot with 1:44 on the clock to give Northwest Nazarene a seven point lead. Trying to foul down the stretch, MSUB was unable to make up the difference and ultimately fell 92-89.
Newbern Jr. posted 15 rebounds for MSUB and seven points. Tyler Green (19 points), Zack Rollins (19 points), and Brendan Howard (12 points) all made it to double figures.
Though MSUB dominated in turnovers in the first half, NNU won the battle for the category in the second half and overtime 7-6. The Yellowjackets shot 45-percent as a team (32-for-71) and 30-percent from beyond the arc (9-for-30). Northwest Nazarene connected on 50-percent of field goals (34-for-68) and 43-percent from three point range (9-for-21). MSUB outshot the Nighthawks from the free throw line 72-percent to 65-percent. NNU received 34 points from the bench compared to 21 for MSUB.
Montana State Billings (11-9, 6-6 GNAC) will be on the road next week as they take on Concordia University Thursday February 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Western Oregon Saturday February 9 at 5:15 p.m. The Yellowjackets have two home games left this season, finishing with six of eight contest away from Billings.