MSU Billings Named Red Lion/GNAC Team Of The Week
Kane scored a GNAC-best 42 points this week, including a career-high 25 against Western Oregon.
Kane scored a GNAC-best 42 points this week, including a career-high 25 against Western Oregon.

Monday, January 16, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Losing the GNAC Preseason Women’s Basketball Player of the Year to injury right before the start of the season is a difficult setback to from which to recover, but the Montana State Billings women’s basketball team found a way to bounce back last week for a pair of conference victories to be named Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week.

The Yellowjackets started the 2016-17 season with a 4-10 record, facing one of the toughest schedules of any team in the West Region. Last week, they proved they were better than their record indicated. The Yellowjackets hosted both of the Oregon schools in the GNAC, beating Concordia, 69-65, before taking out Western Oregon, 74-67, two days later.

“I’m really proud of our players,” MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said following the win against Western Oregon. “We got the win on Thursday and then came back and gutted out a victory. We made some nice plays in the fourth quarter and everyone contributed to get the victory.”

The pair of wins marked the second time this season that the ‘Jackets have won consecutive games after doing so in late November. Montana State Billings is now 4-3 at home and is tied for sixth place in the GNAC.

Against Concordia, the Yellowjackets trailed with less than four minutes left in the game when Marissa Van Atta came up with a steal and converted a 3-point play on a fast-break lay-up to tie the game. Concordia reclaimed the lead, but Van Atta again tied the game with a lay-up with 3:07 left in the game. Two minutes later, the junior forward gave MSUB the lead for good with a mid-range jumper to seal the 69-65 victory.

Van Atta finished the game two points away from her career high with 17 points. Rylee Kane assisted on the go-ahead jumper and equaled the team-high 17 points, which also tied her own career-high mark.

Hosting Western Oregon two nights later, the Yellowjackets withstood a 30-point, 9-rebound and 8-assist effort by Shelby Snook to win, 74-67. The Yellowjackets went on a crucial 11-0 scoring run in the third quarter to take a 52-40 lead that held up for the rest of the game. Kane scored six points during the run and finished with a new career-high of 25 points.

“The coaches have been talking about being more aggressive and attacking,” Kane said after the victory. “Whenever I saw a lane, I wanted to penetrate, because that gets my teammates open. When I get into the lane, it gets everyone on the team a better chance to score. It worked for me and I’m going to keep trying to play like that.”

Kane totaled 42 points and 15 assists in the two victories. Tiana Hanson added 39 points and 18 rebounds, while shooting a perfect 19 for 19 from the free throw line in the two games.

“We had some nice defensive plays that created opportunities in transition,” Woodin said of the win over WOU. “I thought Rylee was really good at scoring, but also effective at running the offense end line to end line and at penetrating to the hoop. We made the extra passes and got the ball into the post better in the second half.”

This week, MSUB will get back on the road to play at Simon Fraser and Western Washington, which are two of the only three teams in the GNAC that have a longer active winning streak than the ‘Jackets.