'Jackets Hold Off Seawolves For West Region Championship
The Yellowjackets have won their last seven games and will make their second-ever appearance to the NCAA Elite Eight on Mar. 19-23 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Yellowjackets have won their last seven games and will make their second-ever appearance to the NCAA Elite Eight on Mar. 19-23 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Monday, March 12, 2018

AZUSA, Calif. – Ice cold. Down by one with four seconds left in the game, Montana State Billings senior guard Rylee Kane knocked down a pair of eventual game-winning free throws to give the No. 7-seeded Yellowjackets a 71-70 win over No. 5 seed Alaska Anchorage for the 2018 NCAA Division II West Regional championship Monday night inside Azusa Pacific University's Felix Event Center.

Driving to the basket in the finals seconds of the game, Kane drew a foul against UAA’s Kian McNair to make her fourth trip to the free throw line. After she swished both attempts, the Yellowjackets were able to come up with a crucial block on the Seawolves’ successive possession to punch its ticket to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.

Alaska Anchorage finishes the season 27-5 and falls in the West Region final after a second-round exit in last year’s tournament. Meanwhile, Montana State Billings (25-11) makes its program’s second trip to the Elite Eight, which is scheduled for Mar. 19-23 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Kane came into the tournament averaging a mere 56 percent from the free throw line. However, the senior proved that numbers don’t matter come playoff time as she went 14 for 15 from the charity stripe over the three-day event and recorded 64 points on 65.7 percent shooting (finished with 14 against Alaska Anchorage).

In a big 24 minutes of action, junior forward Vanessa Stavish tallied a team-high 17 points on 5 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc and 10 rebounds while senior forward Alisha Breen totaled 16 points, nine of which came from the free throw line. Freshman guard Hannah Collins pumped in 12 points in 34 minutes off the bench.

Alaska Anchorage junior forward Hannah Wandersee paced the UAA offense with 18 points and seven rebounds while senior guard Rodericka Ware and junior guard Sydni Stallworth collected 12 and 11 points off the bench, respectively.

The Seawolves began the game on a torrent pace as they opened the night with a 12-5 lead through six minutes of action. The Yellowjackets were able to recover though as they found themselves down 38-32 at halftime.

Montana State Billings picked up its first lead of the game 6:38 into the third quarter after senior forward Rachel Koehler muscled up a layup to give MSUB a 48-47 advantage. Down one with 2:33 left in the final period, junior guard Sydni Stallworth drained a deep three-pointer to put UAA up 68-66.

Following a pair of converted Breen free throws, McNair recorded UAA’s ninth steal of the game at the 1:41 mark of the fourth quarter for an easy fast break layup and a 70-68 lead.

Kane, Breen, Wandersee and Alaska Anchorage sophomore guard Yazmeen Goo were named to the NCAA Division II West Regional all-tournament team.

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