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Playoff hopes dwindle for MSU Billings women after big loss

Posted at 8:49 PM, Feb 16, 2019
Central Washington puts together a strong performance to defeat MSUB’s women’s basketball team 82-45 Saturday evening, and the Yellowjackets slip down the conference standings with four regular-season games left. (Photo courtesy MSU Billings)


(MSU Billings release)

BILLINGS – Five Central Washington University women’s basketball players scored in double figures and two had double-doubles, as host Montana State University Billings was dealt a disheartening 82-45 defeat in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play Saturday evening at Alterowitz Gym.

The Yellowjackets lost their third straight, falling to 10-12 overall and 6-10 in conference play as their playoff hopes further dwindled. “Tonight was a tough game for us,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “We did not play with the effort or execution to compete in this conference. We got dominated on the glass, and couldn’t make shots. We were 10-for-50 over the final three quarters and that is unacceptable. Central’s defense was a big part of that so give them credit.”

MSUB led 16-14 after the opening quarter, but the Wildcats turned it on with a 22-14 second and never looked back. Kassidy Malcolm led the way with 13 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, while JonNae Richardson also completed a double-double with a team-high 15 points and 10 boards. Taylor Shaw scored 13, Sadie Mensing had 11, and Alexis Pana chipped in 10 on a night where eight different Wildcats had five or more points.

No Yellowjacket reached double figures for the first time this season, as Hannah Collins was MSUB’s leading scorer with nine points. Freshman Taryn Shelley got off to a hot start with seven points in the first quarter, but did not score after that as she got into foul trouble and fouled out after just 14 total minutes on the floor.

Jeanann Lemelin had a career-high eight rebounds, but the ‘Jackets were out-boarded 53-35 in the one-sided game. CWU shot 49.3 percent on the night (33-for-67), including a blistering mark of 19-for-32 (59.4 percent) in the second half.

CWU (15-7, 10-5 GNAC) got off to a slow start, hitting just 3 of its first 10 shots including a 1-for-6 mark from 3-point range. That gave the Yellowjackets the momentum in the opening quarter, but CWU woke up early on in the second. Malcolm drained a three to give the Wildcats their first lead at 19-16, but Janessa Williams countered with a triple to even the score early in the second quarter.

The Yellowjackets kept pace in the back-and-forth second, until a 12-4 run over the final 4:37 kicked momentum into CWU’s favor.

MSUB never caught up in the second half, and finished the night with its lowest-scoring quarter of the season as CWU slammed the door with a 29-5 fourth. Taylor Edwards scored five points in 18 minutes, while adding two rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a blocked shot on her 22nd birthday.

The Yellowjackets shot just 23.2 percent (16-for-69), the worst by an MSUB team since at least the 2001-02 season to which point game-by-game statistics are available. “It was a very disappointing weekend,” Woodin said. “We needed to move up in the standings and we did not, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. However, next week is a new week and I expect us to regroup and find a way to win Thursday.”

GNAC PLAYOFF RACE UPDATE: Concordia University topped the University of Alaska 71-44 Saturday to improve to 7-9 in conference play. Seattle Pacific University plays at Western Washington University Saturday night at 7 p.m. Pacific time/8 p.m. Mountain. The ‘Jackets are now a half game behind SPU and a full game behind Concordia in the battle for the final playoff spot. The top-six teams in the GNAC regular-season standings advance to the 2019 GNAC Championships, running March 7-9 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

THE BUZZ: Edwards was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 25-13 overall and 11-5 in home games against Central Washington.

COMING UP: The Yellowjackets’ final road trip of the regular season is next week, when they visit Western Oregon in Monmouth on February 21 and Concordia University in Portland on February 23. Each game is scheduled to tip off at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time/6:15 p.m. Mountain.