MSUB Women Drop Conference Opener to Alaska-Fairbanks - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

MSUB Women Drop Conference Opener to Alaska-Fairbanks

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 At home for their first Great Northwest Athletic Conference game of the season, the Yellowjackets were frozen on the court as MSUB fell 71-53 to the visiting Alaska Nanooks Thursday.
Montana State Billings (4-7, 1-2 GNAC) committed 22 turnovers, including 11 in the third quarter alone as Alaska (5-6, 1-3 GNAC) rolled through the third period widening the lead on a 25-13 run after a 10-point advantage at half-time. On the night, the Nanooks converted 17 for 22 at the free-throw line and shot 42.9 percent (24-56) from the field. Alaska earned 14 steals in the game, scoring 23 points off of turnovers.
The Nanooks were anchored by a 10-point, 16 rebound, seven assist monster-game from Kaillee Skjold. Jordan Wilson shot 9 for 16 from the field for 24 points. Jaylee Mays contributed 16 points and Victoria Milton 11 points and five assists.
For MSUB, junior Marissa Van Atta shot 6 for 10 from the field, leading the team with 13 points. Tiana Hanson had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. The Yellowjackets were 4 for 22 from the 3-point arc and 36.2 percent for the game. MSUB was a slim 7 for 15 from the free-throw line for 46.7 percent.
MSUB outrebounded Alaska 33-29, including 11-6 on the offensive glass. Hanson had five offensive rebounds and Van Atta three. The Yellowjacket bench had 27 points on the night.
"I thought Alaska played very well," MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said. "They were the better team tonight. They hurt us a lot in transition and offensively we were poor. We did not shoot well from both the 3-point line and from the foul line. In addition, we committed too many turnovers."
"Our bench did provide a spark for us tonight," Woodin commented. "In the second quarter they gave us a lift when we really needed it."
After a slow start by both teams, a 4-4 tie was broken by a 6-0 Alaska run, all from the free-throw line as MSUB committed four fouls in a span of 90 seconds. Rylee Kane made a move to the basket to regain the lead on a layup. The Nanooks continued to drive the tempo of the game. In the first quarter, 9 of 20 points for Alaska were at the free-throw line on eight MSUB fouls. The Yellowjackets found themselves at the line three times, missing the trio of chances.
Alaska led by eight points after the opening 10 minutes, 20-12. MSUB sophomore Brina Hull dropped the deficit down to five on one of two 3-pointers for the guard during the game. After a line change from the MSUB bench, freshman Janessa Williams earned her first collegiate points on an assist from Abbie LohofSophia Wass made a short jump shot on a Williams assist as the Yellowjacket reserves closed the gap to three points, 22-19, with 7:45 remaining in the first half.
A long pass from Alaska's Gabriela Jimenez to Mays began a flurry of points for Alaska as the Nanooks finished on a 9-2 run to take a 10-point, 35-25, lead into the locker room.
A free-throw from MSUB's Taylor Edwards and a layup from Hanson at the start of the third quarter drew the deficit down to seven, 35-28. More free-throws and three 3-pointers from the Nanooks that straddled the third and fourth periods drew out the Alaska lead to the largest of the night at 27 points, 65-38, with 7:29 remaining in the game. The 'Jackets finished strong, scoring the last field goals of the game on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jeanann Lemelin and Edwards.

Lemelin was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game scoring four points with three rebounds and one assist, committing no turnovers in 10 minutes on the floor.
"Saturday represents a great challenge for us as we host one of the top-ranked teams in the nation in UAA," Woodin said. "We will need to play with a lot more passion and weed to execute much better."