(MSUB Athletics release)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Putting together a dominant performance on Thursday night at the Alaska Airlines Center, No. 14 University of Alaska Anchorage buried the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team 87-42 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action.
The conference’s leading team in scoring margin improved its mark, thanks to its second-highest point total of the year combined with its fewest points allowed. UAA (13-1, 5-1 GNAC) won its sixth straight game, keeping pace with GNAC-leading Northwest Nazarene which improved to 5-0 on Thursday.
“Anchorage played very well tonight and we didn’t,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “I felt our start was ok, but the last couple of minutes of the first quarter were critical as we went from down four to down 10. We had some good looks in the second quarter, but just couldn’t convert and their defensive pressure bothered us. We need to regroup quickly and play much better on Saturday.”
Sala Langi led all players with 17 points and four assists, while Hannah Wandersee also had 17 and tied for the game-high with eight rebounds. Tara Thompson (13 points) and Kian McNair (10) were also in double figures for the home team, which shot 49.2 percent overall (31-for-63) including a mark of 7-for-14 (50.0 percent) from 3-point range.
The Yellowjackets (6-5, 2-3) made just 11 of 46 shots from the field (23.9 percent), and 2 of 21 3-pointers (9.5 percent). It was the team’s worst field-goal percentage in a game since going 12-for-53 (22.6 percent) on November 22, 2003 in a 66-42 loss at Seattle Pacific University.
Taryn Shelley and Hannah Collins had 10 points apiece for the Yellowjackets, while the former matched Wandersee with eight rebounds. MSUB had 11 assists against a season-high 23 turnovers, as one of the top defenses in the nation disrupted the Yellowjackets’ flow from start-to-finish.
Taylor Cunningham answered a Wandersee trey with her first of the game, helping MSUB keep pace early down 8-5. UAA out-paced MSUB 14-7 the rest of the period however, and once it led 22-12 the margin never fell below double figures the rest of the night.
Back-to-back threes by Thompson to start off the second quarter extended UAA’s advantage to 28-14, and the ‘Jackets struggled to protect the ball. By halftime the Seawolves’ advantage had swollen to 43-18, as MSUB matched season lows with six points in the second and 18 total in the opening half.
The ‘Jackets suffered from cold shooting in the first, going just 6-for-27 (22.2 percent) overall and just 1-for-13 from 3-point range (7.7 percent). MSUB was 2-for-14 and 0-for-6 from long range in the second quarter.
Cunningham hit MSUB’s second three of the game with 4:30 to go, breaking a drought of nearly 33 minutes without a bucket from beyond the arc. The junior forward finished with eight points and a team-high three assists.
Reigning all-conference guard Yazmeen Goo, who had missed the previous 11 games with an injury, returned to the court for the Seawolves and scored five points to go along with three rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.
The Yellowjackets were out-rebounded 40-29, and made 18 of 23 foul shots (78.3 percent).
THE BUZZ: Shelley was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 27-35 all-time against UAA and is 11-20 in games played in Anchorage…the last time the ‘Jackets lost by 40 was an 83-42 setback at South Dakota Mines on November 26, 2016…Thursday was the lowest point total by an MSUB team since the loss at SD Mines two seasons ago…it was MSUB’s worst loss since a 100-51 setback at Western Washington on January 3, 2015.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets head to frigid Fairbanks, where the forecast is in the -30s the next two days, for a Saturday conference counter against the University of Alaska. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. AKT/5 p.m. Mountain, and live video with play-by-play commentary and live stats will be available online through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal.