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MSU Billings eager to host team's largest women's basketball classic

The field includes 10 teams from across the nation
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Posted at 2:47 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 17:18:49-04

BILLINGS - Win the bid and they will come.

The basketball women at MSU Billings will host the D2CCA Tip Off Classic at the Trailhead this weekend at Alterowitz Gym, one of the premier events in NCAA Division II.

Ten teams will navigate 15 games in three days, the largest women's basketball tournament ever hosted by the Yellowjacket program.

"We've played in it a couple times. It was always in Anaheim," head coach Kevin Woodin told MTN Sports.

How did it end up in Billings? The Jackets tossed a bid onto the court a couple years ago and nailed it.

"I was hoping for six teams, we could've done it with four," Woodin explained. "But there was so much interest from teams that didn't get to play a year ago that we got 10 and we're going to have some great teams coming."

The field includes Lubbock Christian, which owns the last two NCAA DII Women's National Championships.

"I think it'll be fun because we don't know a lot about them, they don't know a lot about us," said Yellowjackets' guard Danielle Zahn. "It'll just kind of be to see who can play the better basketball."

"It's going to be a great challenge to play the best and play them so early," Woodin said of Lubbock Christian. "And an opportunity to play them at home. You can't beat that."

The Yellowjackets get their shot at Lubbock Christian Saturday night at 7:05. The full tournament schedule can be seen here.

They Jackets are also playing more regular season games than Woodin remembers scheduling in nearly two decades at MSUB. A 32-game slate.

"We haven't done it in a while," Woodin said. "I'm hoping we go over that (number of 32) because that mean we'd make the tournament and play deeper into March."

"It's awesome, especially since we only got to have 10 games last season," said guard Kortney Nelson.

And already, the game day atmosphere is exponentially back, right down to the smallest details players noticed in their last week's exhibition win at Rocky Mountain College.

"With even like the bleachers being down, fans being there," Zahn said in appreciation.

What should fans expect from this year's Yellowjacket women? A wealth of experience -- the Jackets didn't lose a single player off last year's roster -- and they flash a deep bench.

"Our game against Rocky, I think we played just about everybody, so we have quite a bit of depth," Nelson said.

"It helps the coaches know that whoever they take off the bench, the game is going to be played the same," said Zahn.

With little, if any, drop-off.

"We're all on the same page this year and I think we're going to be pretty good," said forward Cariann Kunkel.