Sunday, December 12, 2010

Big Second Half Sparks Yellowjackets past Rocky, 70-67

BILLINGS, Mont. – A game-high 27 points, including 21 in the second half, by Montana State Billings senior, Beata Bak, helped spark the Yellowjackets to a 70-67 victory over visiting Rocky Mountain College Saturday evening at Alterowitz Gymnasium.  With the win, the Yellowjackets improved to 4-4 on the year, while the game was an exhibition contest for the Battlin’ Bears.  MSUB senior, Kayla Ryan, added her fourth-consecutive double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“I felt we got off to a slow start, you have to give Rocky a lot of credit,” MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin said.  “We didn’t have a lot of continuity in the first half and we didn’t shoot well.  Luckily, we defended well throughout the first half, and I felt fortunate we were as close as we were at halftime.”

The Yellowjackets were 23 of 62 from the field for 37.1 percent.  They struggled from beyond the arc for just 4 of 22, but were 20 of 24 from the line, including 14 of 16 in the second half.  Senior Sarah McNamee tallied 14 points as the other Yellowjacket in double figures.  MSUB was deadly in steals, too, as it tallied a season-high 15 thefts.

Rocky was led by 18 points from Dani Hosking, while Callie Kautzmann tallied 12 points, including 11 in the second half.  Austin Hanser had nine points and 11 rebounds.  The Battlin’ Bears shot 22 of 56 from the field for 39.3 percent.  They were 9 of 17 from deep and 14 of 20 from the line.  27 turnovers proved costly for the Battlin’ Bears, while MSUB had 17 miscues.

The first half saw the Yellowjackets jump out to a quick lead with two charity tosses by Bak and jumpers from Bak and McNamee for a 6-2 lead.  Rocky responded with triples from Shannon Hildreth and Hosking sandwiched by a triple from McNamee for an 11-11 score with 11:15 remaining in the half.

From there, the Battlin’ Bears went on an 8-2 run over the next two minutes for a 19-13 advantage – the largest of the half.  After a scoring drought of over three minutes by both teams, the Jackets cut into deficit with two charity tosses from Ryan and a layup for a 21-19 deficit.  A triple from senior Shantell Marquis gave the Jackets the lead back for the first time since early in the game at 22-21.

“I liked the little run we had to get it even at 24,” Woodin added.  “I was disappointed in the last couple of minutes of the half to give them the lead back.  They are difficult for us to matchup with, they have a lot of speed and a really balanced lineup.  I thought our bench played well in the first half.  We got some good play from some extra people.”

Rocky again had the answer as it closed the half with an 8-2 run courtesy of an uncontested triple in the corner by Kendra Leininger for a 29-24 advantage at intermission.

Both teams struggled shooting in the first half as the Jackets were just 8 of 31 from the field (25.8 percent) and 2 of 13 from deep.  The Jackets were 6 of 8 from the line.  Conversely, Rocky was 9 of 26 from the field (34.6), 4 of 6 from range and 7 of 8 from the line.

The game was definitely a tale of two halves as MSUB struggled in the first and responded with a 15 for 31 outing in the second half for 48.4 percent.  Rocky also shot better in the second half (13 of 30), but 14 turnovers proved costly as the Yellowjacket defense and inside presence of Bak and Ryan took over.

Kautzmann drained three triples, a steal and assist in the first two minutes of the second half as Rocky jumped out to a 40-28 lead with an 11-4 run.

“We got the first bucket of the second half, but give them credit, they took it right to us and got us down by double digits,” Woodin added.  “Our players did a nice job of responding, I didn’t have to get on them and in the huddle we had great senior leadership.  They felt they could get it done and we played very well defensively throughout most of the second half.”

A big steal in the backcourt by McNamee followed by a nice pass to a wide-open Bak for a layup setup a nice run of 13-1 by MSUB for a 41-41 score since the Kautzmann triples.  A triple from senior Mandy Jacobs put the Yellowjackets up 44-41, but an old fashion three-point play by Hosking tied the game at 44 moments later.

“I thought Mandy played a great second half defensively, though she only had a couple of buckets, but they were big,” Woodin said.

Two big triples from Bak, one the old fashion way, and the other from range, broke the tie and put the Jackets up 50-44.  Rocky battled to within one at 54-53, but the Yellowjackets regained the lead courtesy of good inside play to Bak and Ryan for a 62-54 lead with 5:51 left.

“I thought we got our interior game going with Beata and Kayla,” Woodin said.  “I thought they played well and our interior players played well to give us the lead.  We got some full-court pressure, which bothered Rocky for a bit.”

MSUB held a 68-59 lead with 2:57 left courtesy of a jumper from Bak, but the Battlin’ Bears turned up the pressure and used an 8-0 run to pull within 68-67 with 24 seconds left.  The run started with a big triple from Leininger and capped with a layup by Austin Hanser.

The Yellowjackets couldn’t handle the in-bound pass, as RMC had a chance at the lead.  The 27th RMC turnover proved costly as the Bears gave the ball back to the Jackets seconds later.

McNamee was immediately fouled as she calmly knocked down two free throws for a 70-67 lead with nine seconds left.  Hosking missed on a game-tying triple at the buzzer.

“In the last couple of minutes we got a little complacent,” Woodin added.  “I think part of that is my fault as we need to attack more in the last few minutes.  Shantell (Marquis) did a great job defensively down the stretch as we were able to get the ball in the closing moments.  Sarah (McNamee) made some big free throws.”

The game was just the second home game of the season for the Jackets.  MSUB continues at home Sat., Dec. 18, at 2 p.m. versus Minot State.  The Jackets then finish the home stand after Christmas with the final non-conference game against Chadron State (Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.) and then they are scheduled to open the home Great Northwest Athletic Conference play Jan. 1 at 5:15 p.m. versus Alaska Anchorage and Jan. 3 versus Alaska Fairbanks at 7 p.m.

“It was a really important win for us because it was so tough to come back from double-digits and get the win,” Woodin said.  “We haven’t had many home games and we haven’t played very well at home yet.  Hopefully we can take this second half and build on it in the next few home games and get better.”

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