Lady Jackets advance in GNAC tourney with first-round win - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Lady Jackets advance in GNAC tourney with first-round win

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After being down by double-digits, the MSUB Yellowjackets fought their way back in the fourth quarter, outscoring Northwest Nazarene 25-16 in the last 10 minutes for a 70-65 win in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at Marcus Pavilion.

Alisha Breen scored 12 of her 24 game points in the final frame and Janiel Olson was 6-7 from the free-throw line in the last 53 seconds. Breen was the game's high-scorer with her 24 points adding in three rebounds and three assists. Olson tied the GNAC tournament record of 17 rebounds. She was just shy of her personal best off the glass as she collected almost half of MSUB's boards.

Sophomore Marissa Van Atta had 10 points, Rylee Kane scored eight points with three assists and three rebounds, with Monica Grimsrud adding in seven points and five rebounds.

In the first half, Northwest Nazarene used short scoring spurts on a combination of ball screens and quick interior passing to target inside players. The Crusaders climbed to a 5-point, 34-29, lead on 55.6 percent shooting (15-27) at the end of the first 20 minutes.

The Yellowjackets came alive in the fourth quarter, pumping in 25 points and increasing their shooting percentage to close the game ahead of NNU 41.1-40.6 percent. NNU ended the game ahead on the glass 41-38.

Taylor Simmons led Northwest Nazarene with 20 points with Ellie Logan adding in 15. Coco Gall recorded a team-high eight rebounds.

NNU went out on top first with five straight points on a jump shot and 3-point play.

Kane drove into the key for the first two points for MSUB. Olson followed with a 3-point shot at the top of the arc. Breen then found Van Atta under the basket for two more points and added a free-throw to pull within one, 9-8.

Tiana Hanson completed a 3-point play for the Yellowjackets and Grimsrud found Van Atta again to tie the score with three minutes left in the first frame. NNU gained four points, but Breen pulled up for a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to close the point spread to 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Van Atta opened up the second quarter with a steal and Kane finished with a layup for the first lead of the game for MSUB. Olson went in on the NNU possession causing a jump ball to be called in favor of the ‘Jackets.

Another short spurt from NNU had the Crusaders up by five. Kane used a dribble and drive to the hoop to stop the momentum. Four straight missed shots from MSUB and a back door layup gave the Crusaders a 26-20 lead and had the Yellowjackets calling for a timeout.

Simmons capped an 8-0 run from the Crusaders on a layup to draw out the score 28-20.

Grimsrud passed inside to Breen for a layup, but Simmons stole the ball and raced the length of the court for a layup. Olson made two free-throws on the fifth team foul from NNU and Van Atta and Breen added jump shots for the ‘Jackets at the end of the second quarter.

At the half, MSU Billings was shooting 39.3 percent (11-28) compared to 55.6 percent (15-27) from NNU. The teams were even on rebounds at 15. MSUB had two 3-pointers (2-8) and NNU one 1-4).

At the start of the first half, the two teams traded baskets. Three straight layups from Breen, Grimsrud, and Olson pulled the ‘Jackets to two back, 37-35.

Free-throws from Simmons and Logan kicked the score back up to a 6-point, 41-35, lead. Logan posted up for another two points.

Gall gave NNU a double-digit lead, 45-35, with 3:56 left in the third quarter. Four points from Grimsrud pulled MSUB closer, but more free-throws kept the Crusaders ahead.

The momentum switch came at the end of the third quarter. Stavish drained a wide-open 3-pointer and Breen scored nine straight points. A left-handed layup from Breen and another point at the free-throw line had the Yellowjackets within four, 49-45.

Simmons rolled in another layup off a steal, but Breen countered inside with a roll under the basket, drawing contact for three more points with the bucket and free-throw.

A steal from Van Atta put the ball back in the hands of Breen who posted up for two more points and then made a turnaround jump shot.

Breen capped off nine straight points with a 3-pointer for the MSUB 55-54 lead with five minutes left. Kane continued the scoring at the free-throw line with one. Breen drew contact under the rim and at the line made both shots for 58-54. 

Van Atta came up clutch with a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass from Breen with just over two minutes left for 61-54. At the free-throw line Kane added one and Olson one to push the lead to 63-56. The Crusaders’ Kate Cryderman made a 3-pointer.

On the inbounds pass, Stavish drew the foul and was 1-2. Back on the other end NNU made a layup, but Olson was fouled and made both. She was good at the free-throw line for two more to keep the ‘Jackets ahead.

MSU Billings ended the fourth quarter on an 18-11 run.

THE BUZZ: Olson tied the GNAC tournament record of 17 rebounds set by Megan Wiedeman in 2014…Breen was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game.

UP NEXT: The Yellowjackets continue their tournament run with a semifinal game against the second seed Western Washington on Friday at 6:15 p.m. Mountain time. MSUB won both games during the regular season against the Vikings. At Alterowitz on Jan. 21, MSUB won 53-47. At Skagit College, MSU Billings won 48-46 on Feb. 20.  Live video and stats can be found at GNAC.tv for all the tournament contests.

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