GNAC-leading Western Oregon pulls away from MSU Billings, 81-65

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – After heading into halftime tied at 28, turnovers in the second half proved costly for the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team against the league’s best defense as they fell 81-65 to Western Oregon University Thursday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game.

The Wolves made eight 3-pointers in the second half to pull away from the Yellowjackets, who finished just 5-for-19 from beyond the arc.

Despite the loss, Melvin Newbern Jr. had another strong night shooting for the MSU Billings. The junior hit 9 of 13 from the field and finished with 21 points. Zack Rollins, Tyler Green, and Brendan Howard also reached double-figures for MSUB with 14, 12, and 12 respectively.

“Mostly they (Western Oregon) got it done on defense tonight,” commented MSUB assistant coach Bobby Howard after the game. “It was pretty hard for us to make baskets or even get good shots and that’s a credit to their team. We need to kind of make that next step and we didn’t do that in the second half so we got what we deserved a little bit. It doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of bouncing back on Saturday, but we know what the expectation will be.”

Western Oregon entered the game holding opposing teams to 63.9 points per game, which ranks No. 1 in the GNAC. They held MSUB to a 40-percent field goal percentage and connected for 53 second half points to put away the game.

Dalven Brushier led the Wolves with 19 points (8-for-13) and Kaleb Warner had four 3-pointers for WOU to lead all players.

The Yellowjackets (7-6, 2-3 GNAC) have lost three straight games, all against conference opponents and have also lost five straight games against the Wolves. Western Oregon (12-3, 5-1 GNAC) maintained the top spot in the GNAC with the win Thursday night. They remain a half-game ahead of Saint Martin’s (4-1), Northwest Nazarene (4-1), and Seattle Pacific (4-1). Meanwhile the ‘Jackets fell into a three-way tie for fifth place with Alaska Anchorage (2-3), and Western Washington (2-3).

NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets stay in Billings to play Concordia University (6-7, 1-4 GNAC) on Saturday, January 12 at 7 p.m. Live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available online through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal here. The game will also be available on television on SWX Network.

THE BUZZ: Melvin Newbern Jr. was named St. Vincent player of the game for MSUB for the second straight game…The ‘Jackets dropped to 11-17 all-time against Western Oregon Thursday night.

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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