MSUB Men Snap Three Game Skid with Win over Simon Fraser - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

MSUB Men Snap Three Game Skid with Win over Simon Fraser

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Preston Beverly slammed home a dunk over a defender with 4:09 to play Saturday night, simultaneously reaching a new career high in scoring and solidifying a lead that helped Montana State University Billings to a 93-86 win over visiting Simon Fraser University in Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball action at Alterowitz Gym.

The Yellowjackets watched a 14-point lead early in the second half shrink to just 71-68 before Beverly’s right-handed jam, which was followed by a layup from Kamal Tall as the margin spread back out to seven points. Tall had six of his career-high 17 points in the final four minutes, and the ‘Jackets knocked down 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to hold off a final push by the Clan.

“Simon Fraser played really well, and that is not the same team we saw up in Vancouver,” said MSUB head coach Jamie Stevens, referencing a 107-66 blowout win by MSUB at SFU on Dec. 29, 2016. “They just kept coming at us and we couldn’t extend the lead, but our guys played hard tonight, and it was a total team effort.”

The win kept MSUB in the upper half of the GNAC standings, as the Yellowjackets improved to 12-8 overall and 7-5 to sit in fifth place. Simon Fraser is now 2-18 on the season and is still in search of its first conference win at 0-12 in league play.

Beverly finished the night with 35 points, making 10 of 24 shots from the field and 12 of 15 free throws. He came up one rebound shy of a double-double with nine, and had four assists and four blocks in 36 minutes.

The Clan used a 9-0 run at the eight-minute mark of the second half to get back into the game, as SFU turned a 66-54 hole into a one-possession game after a trey by Iziah Sherman-Newsome. A layup by Tall put an end to the two-minute scoring drought by MSUB, and Kendall Denham hit one of the biggest shots of the game the next time down the court with a three to make the score 71-63.

Denham finished the night with nine points, seven assists, and four rebounds in an efficient 27 minutes off the bench. “It ended up being a pick-and-roll and they went under me, and it felt good as soon as it left my hand,” Denham commented when asked about his big trey. “I think our success starts with our defense, because that is where we get our transition points and strive.”

MSUB shot a solid 49.2 percent overall as a team (30-for-61), but the ‘Jackets started slowly and found themselves in an 8-0 hole three minutes into the game. Marc Matthews heated up from the arc in the middle of the first half, hitting consecutive threes that tied the game at 17-17. Beverly broke an ensuing 19-19 tie with a trey, and the ‘Jackets never trailed the rest of the game.

On a night that called on the Yellowjackets’ veterans to rise to the task, Jace Anderson bumped the advantage back into double digits with back-to-back corner threes with 14:30 to play in regulation. The quick six points from the senior came after a 5-0 run by SFU that cut it to a two-possession game. Anderson finished the game with 10 total points in 27 minutes, while adding two rebounds, two assists, and a steal.

Matthews’ sixth and final trey of the night came with three minutes to go, and, similarly to Anderson’s threes, once again helped distance the ‘Jackets to the tune of a 78-71 lead. Matthews also had five rebounds, helping MSUB to an overall 37-31 edge over SFU on the boards. “We wanted our returners who have been through this league multiple times to take control and help fight through this funk we have been in,” Stevens said on the Yellowjackets’ three-game losing streak entering the night. “Now we can take a deep breath and focus on the next four weeks.”

Four Clan players reached double figures in scoring, and the team was led by Michael Provenzano who had 23 points on 7 of 16 shooting. The freshman also led all players with seven assists, and played all 40 minutes at point guard for the visitors. Kedar Wright chipped in 16 points, five assists, three rebounds, and three steals, and Sherman-Newsome finished with a dozen points. JJ Pankratz was also a double-digit scorer with 10 points despite being limited to 16 minutes due to foul trouble.

As a team SFU shot a solid 48.4 percent from the field (30-for-62), including a mark of 47.8 percent (11-for-23) from long range. The Clan also made 15 of 19 foul shots (78.9 percent).