Breen Leads MSUB To First-Ever GNAC Championship - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Breen Leads MSUB To First-Ever GNAC Championship

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska. – If earning the GNAC Player of the Year honor wasn’t enough, Alisha Breen made sure that No. 4 seed Montana State Billings won its first-ever conference title as the Yellowjackets defeated No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific 71-61 to win the 2018 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Breen was named the tournament MVP after tallying a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds for a three-day tournament total of 77 points. The Yellowjackets earn their first win over SPU this season and capture the GNAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II West Regionals tournament. Seattle Pacific goes home with a 23-7 record and falls to MSUB for the first time in GNAC Championships history.

To go along with Breen’s 10th-straight 20-point game, Rylee Kane supplied 15 points while Hannah Collins chipped in 13. Kane recorded four assists for a Yellowjackets’ team that shot 46.2 percent from the field and ended the night with eight unanswered points.

Montana State Billings is now 1-1 in GNAC finals competition after rebounding from a 77-57 loss to Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Breen recorded 18 points in that contest. The Yellowjackets improve to 22-11 and await their first-round regional matchup when the NCAA Selection Show airs this Sunday at 7 p.m. (Pacific).

Riley Evans paced the Falcons’ offense with 18 points off the bench on 7 of 10 shooting. Courtney Hollander and Julia Haining totaled 12 and 10 points in starting roles, respectively. Seattle Pacific outscored MSUB off the bench 27-18 and had 10 more assists than the Yellowjackets.

Each team traded early buckets as both shot over 40 percent from the field in the first quarter. After corralling an offensive rebound, Kane found a wide-open Breen for a straightaway three-pointer to give MSUB a 16-14 lead late in the first period.

Kane extended the Yellowjackets’ lead to six after connecting on a left-handed runner off the glass for a 22-16 lead at the 6:19 mark of the second quarter. Collins followed that up with a baseline jumper on MSUB’s successive possession to give the Yellowjackets its largest lead of the game, 24-16.

The Falcons hung tough as Erica Pagano cut Seattle Pacific’s deficit to three with 5.9 seconds remaining in the first half. Pagano powered through the lane and finished a contested layup through contact for her fifth point of the night.

Kane and Collins led MSUB to a 29-26 halftime lead with seven points each.

Knocking down her second field goal of the contest in the third quarter, Rachel Shim netted a corner three-pointer to bring SPU within 43-42 with 3:15 on the clock.

Seattle Pacific’s second lead of the contest came in the final period. Evans notched her 13th point of the night after draining her third three-pointer to put SPU up 53-52 just 1:38 into the quarter. The freshman continued to pour on the pressure as she knocked down yet another long-range attempt to give the Falcons a 57-52 advantage with a little under six minutes left.