Yellowjackets Hang On Late For Women's Semis Upset
Hannah Collins came off the bench for six points, three rebounds and two assists in a career-high 34 minutes of action.
Hannah Collins came off the bench for six points, three rebounds and two assists in a career-high 34 minutes of action.

Friday, March 2, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska. – Not only did Montana State Billings earn its first win against Northwest Nazarene this season, it snapped the Nighthawks’ 13-game win streak to advance to finals of the GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Yellowjackets withstood a 10-point third quarter by NNU’s Avery Albrecht to earn a 76-69 win over the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Montana State Billings advances to its second GNAC Championships finals and will face the winner between No. 3 Seattle Pacific and No. 2 Alaska Anchorage tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. (Alaska time).

Alisha Breen paced the MSUB offense with 27 points on 7 of 15 shooting while Rylee 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.

The Yellowjackets (21-11) advance to their second finals appearance in program history and send Northwest Nazarene home with a 22-4 record. The Nighthawks fall for the first time since its 79-73 loss to Central Washington on Jan. 9 and await its West Regional postseason fate when the NCAA Selection Show airs this Sunday at 7 p.m. (Pacific).

Danielle Jardine led the Nighthawks with 17 points while McKenna Walker tallied 15 points in a starting role. Averaging 81.4 points per game during its 13-game win streak, NNU was plagued by 21 turnovers despite shooting 45.1 percent from the field.

The game got off to a flying start as both teams attempted eight shots each in the opening 5:29. Montana State Billings rattled off eight straight points to gain a 12-8 lead before Northwest Nazarene’s Lexi Tubbs ended the run with a three-pointer at the 4:15 mark of the first quarter.

Walker began to find her stroke in the second period after connecting on back-to-back three-pointers to give the Nighthawks a 28-26 lead two minutes into the quarter.

Breen ended NNU’s 7-0 run after collecting her third rebound of the game for an easy put-back. The Yellowjackets flipped the script as they netted 12 consecutive points over a 3:42 span to hold a 44-36 advantage entering halftime. Despite missing her opening three shots, Breen finished the half with 13 points to help the Yellowjackets outscore NNU 26-18 in the quarter.

Albrecht provided the offensive spark for the Nighthawks in the third quarter. The sophomore netted 10-straight points to bring NNU within 57-55 with 2:11 left in the quarter. Carly Parker tied the contest at 57 with a pair of free throws with 1:35 left in the period.

Lexi Prevost broke the deadlock with 6:43 left in the game with a corner three-pointer to put the Yellowjackets up 67-64. The GNAC leading in three-point attempts this season, MSUB connected on just its fifth long ball of the night when Koehler drained her second three-pointer of the season to extend MSUB’s lead 70-64.

Montana State Billings zoned in on defense in the final five minutes and knocked down critical late free throws to ice the contest.