MSUB's Title Run Merits Team Of The Week Recognition
With the GNAC's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division II West Regional tournament, the Yellowjackets will play Hawaii Pacific this Friday at 2:30 p.m.
With the GNAC's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division II West Regional tournament, the Yellowjackets will play Hawaii Pacific this Friday at 2:30 p.m.

Monday, March 5, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. –  Earning its first-ever conference title in program history, No. 4 seed Montana State Billings defeated No. 3 seed Seattle Pacific 71-61 to win the 2018 GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center. The achievement is further legitimized as the Yellowjackets add Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week laurels to their account.

Senior forward Alisha Breen was named the tournament MVP after tallying a three-day tournament total of 77 points and 25 rebounds. The Yellowjackets earned their first win over SPU this season and captured the GNAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II West Regionals where they will play No. 19 Hawaii Pacific this Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the opening round of the tournament.

"This was just a great game and I am very proud of this team," said MSUB head coach Kevin Wooden. "This is a great win for our university and our team, and I couldn't be more proud."

The Yellowjackets opened the GNAC Championships with a narrow 75-73 win over No. 5 seed Central Washington on Thursday. Breen and Rylee Kane did the heavy lifting in the contest as the senior duo combined for 51 points. Despite their 20-point performances, it was a late defensive stop with 3.1 seconds remaining that pushed the Yellowjackets past the Wildcats. Breen finished the night with 26 points on 10 of 19 shooting while Kane pumped in 25 points, nine of which came from the free-throw line.

Montana State Billings then went on to defeat No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene, 76-69, in Friday’s semifinals to end the Nighthawks’ 13-game win streak. The Yellowjackets withstood a 10-point third quarter by NNU’s Avery Albrecht to earn its second trip to the GNAC Championships final. Breen paced the MSUB offense with 27 points on 7 of 15 shooting while Kane supplied 17 points and six assists. To go along with her sturdy defensive presence, Rachel Koehler accounted for 11 points off the bench. Breen also broke the GNAC single-season free throw record with her 191st make late in the fourth quarter.

“We just wouldn’t be denied and we have a whole group of players that know what it takes to win,” said Woodin. “I don’t think this is the time of year to re-invent the wheel, but we’re excited to get some rest and are pleased to be at the [West Regionals]. It sounds like its going to be a great regional with a lot of well-balanced teams.”

Montana State Billings is one of four GNAC teams (Northwest Nazarene, Alaska Anchorage and Seattle Pacific) selected to the 2018 NCAA Division II West Regionals and enters as the tournament’s No. 7 seed. In MSUB’s previous matchup against Hawaii Pacific on Dec. 19, the Sharks came away with a 79-52 win at the Oahu Christmas Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. The West Regional tournament will be held at Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Event Center in Azusa, Calif., with the opening round commencing on Friday. The semifinals will take place on Saturday with the final to be played Monday at 7 p.m.