Jackets fall in regular season finale; Olson becomes leading reb - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Jackets fall in regular season finale; Olson becomes leading rebounder

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Cold shooting from the Yellowjackets against good defense and rebounding from the Wildcats led to a 69-55 MSU Billings Great Northwest Athletic Conference loss at Central Washington’s Nicholson Pavilion Saturday.

MSUB opened flat, getting down 22-11 in the first quarter and falling further behind in a 14-point 38-24 deficit at half-time.

Central Washington (17-11, 10-10 GNAC) continued to roll in the second half, opening up the back 20 minutes with a 9-2 run to drive the lead up over the 20-point margin.

Montana State University Billings (19-9, 15-5 GNAC) shot 28.6 percent (19-57) in the game and were outrebounded 39-27. The bench players from MSU Billings came onto the court and played most of the fourth quarter for MSUB. The five players pulled to within 11, 62-51, with one minutes left, but that as close as the team could come.

Sophomore and St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game, Lexi Prevost scored a career-high 13 points for MSUB. The 5-foot-7 guard from Sidney, Mont., shot 4-6 from the field and was 4-7 from the free-throw line. Freshman Cierra Lamey had eight points on 3-5 shooting from the field, including 2-2 from the 3-point arc. She added two rebounds and three steals from off the bench. The MSUB reserves had 27 of the 55 MSUB points on the night.

“We need to give great credit to Central Washington tonight,” MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said. “They really were the better team on both ends of the court. We got down early and just couldn’t fight out of the hole. Most of the first half we were down double-digits and unable to stream any baskets together. I thought a huge factor was the differential off the glass. We needed to naturalize the boards and tonight was not meant to be.”

“I did think our bench played really well tonight,” Woodin continued “I thought Lexi and Cierra had their best games of the season tonight,” Woodin continued. “Our entire bench was great and made a huge contribution in the second half for us in particular.”

Besides Prevost, no other Yellowjacket scored in the double-digits. Monica Grimsrud had nine points, Alisha Breen added eight, and Rylee Kane had six points and three assists. Janiel Olson collected a team-high seven rebounds.

For CWU, Jasmine Parker shot 7-10 for 15 points, Mandy Steward added 12 points, and Jasmin Edwards had 10 points and nine assists.

After a CWU 6-0 run to open play, Kane made a 3-point basket, but CWU continued to roll points taking an 11-3 lead.

Breen hit the second basket for MSUB with another 3-point basket. A drive from Edwards to the basket made it 15-6. Two straight turnovers gave CWU extra possessions and the Wildcats were able to capitalize at the foul line. India Matheson pushed the lead into double digits with two free-throws for 17-6.

Prevost drove to the basket and was fouled on the attempt, but made good on both of her free throws. The Wildcats continued to win the battle on the glass, gaining multiple chances at the basket with offensive grabs.

The first 20 points for CWU were inside or at the free-throw line. MSU Billings’ first 11 makes were outside or at the free-throw line. After the first 10 minutes, MSUB found themselves down 22-11.

Prevost missed a layup attempt, but drew another foul on her drive and at the line was 1-2 to open the second quarter. Grimsrud shot back-to-back 3-pointers to chip away at the lead, but CWU was able to keep a 10-point margin with their own pair of 3-pointers.

MSUB’s Marissa Van Atta dropped the deficit down to eight points with two free-throws. A steal from Kane gave MSUB the possession, but two more chances didn’t yield points, and the Wildcats added to their lead with a jump shot from Steward.

Central Washington ended the first half with a 10-4 run to open up a 38-24 lead at the break. The Wildcats shot almost 50.0 percent in the first half (14-29) and were dominate on the glass 25-9.

CWU continued to roll in the second half. The Wildcats kicked off the back half of the game with a 9-2 opening run.

Parker drove the total past 50 with two free throws. More turnovers from the Yellowjackets from bad passing and loose ball handling had MSUB struggling in the second half.

Prevost made two more great moves at the basket, adding four straight points for MSUB to drop the deficit down under 20, 52-34, with three minutes left in the third quarter. On the next possession the Yellowjackets had their pocket picked and the Wildcats earned two straight baskets to creep back ahead. 

The ‘Jackets kept grinding away, but a stretch of four straight missed 3-point baskets without an offensive rebound added to the MSUB scoring cold spell.

In the fourth quarter, MSUB went to its bench again. Lamey made a 3-pointer and a layup for five straight points and Prevost added four with another 3-pointer and a free-throw.

The second 3-pointer from Lamey was the shot that had the Yellowjackets within 11, 62-51, with two minutes remaining in the game. Tiana Hanson added two points for MSUB after she collected an offensive rebound and went back for the layup. Prevost ended the scoring for the ‘Jackets with two more points.

THE BUZZ: With her fourth rebound in the game, senior Janiel Olson became the all-time leading rebounder for the MSU Billings women’s basketball program. Olson has collected 961 rebounds to surpass Robyn Milne (957, 2002-05) to take over the No. 1 spot in Yellowjacket history.

“I think that is quite an achievement and I am very happy for her,” Woodin said. “It is a lot of hard work and I am so glad she was able to come back this year and make that accomplishment. It is a true testament to her and is really amazing.”

UP NEXT: MSU Billings has earned a place in the GNAC postseason tournament. The Yellowjackets went into tonight as the No. 2 seed, but with the loss may fall to No. 3 with a Western Washington win. The Vikings play at Alaska later Saturday evening. If WWU wins, MSUB will enter the tournament as No. 3 and will face the No. 6 seed on Thursday, Mar. 3 at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time. If WWU loses, MSUB earns a bye as the No. 2 seed, and will play on Friday, Mar. 4, at 5:15 p.m. in Lacey, Wash.

“It’s been a great regular season for us and we are very excited that we have qualified for the GNAC tournament,” Woodin commented. “We are looking forward to playing in the postseason.” 

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