BILLINGS, Mont. - A late rally came up short as Saint Martins lost to Montana State Billings, 55-51, in the first round of the inaugural Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament on Monday night.
It was a great atmosphere for a tournament game, MSUB coach Kevin Woodin said. It was very exciting to be participating in the playoffs. To win a close game, you can't ask for much more than that. I thought the game was very competitive and we knew it would be close. It really wasn't decided until the final seconds.
Jenny Heringer knocked down a jumper with 17 seconds remaining to blunt a late Saints comeback, and the Yellowjackets advanced to the tournament semifinals at top-seeded Western Washington on Wednesday.
Heringer's shot with around 17 seconds left was really big with the shot clock running down, Woodin said. I thought our team did a nice job of staying patient on that possession and finding the open player as Jenny hit a big shot.
Trailing 51-41 with 6 minutes, 45 seconds remaining, Saint Martins (15-12) went on a 10-2 run, with Katie Hawkins hitting a jumper, Kellie Snyder adding a pair of baskets and Heather Worleys jumper with 51 seconds left, closing the gap to 53-51.
But after a timeout, the host Yellowjackets (16-11) got the ball to Heringer for her clinching hoop. A steal and layup by Snyder at the buzzer accounted for the final points.
Dara Zack led the Saints with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Snyder added 13 points. Bobbi Knudsen scored a career-high 19 points to lead the Jackets, going 5-of-7 on 3-pointers. She also had four rebounds and two assists.
Bobbi hit some big shots for us, Woodin said. Her teammates found her. For a freshman to step up under those conditions is pretty amazing. She may be a freshman, but she doesn't play like someone new to the job.
Zack hit a 3-pointer with 14:30 remaining in the second half, cutting the Yellowjackets lead to 35-31 as SMU opened the second half by scoring seven of the first 10 points. A layup by Heather Worley brought the Saints to 35-33 with 12 minutes left.
We started the second half fine, but they were able to narrow the gap as we missed some pretty easy shots we normally make, Woodin said. Give them credit, they are very well coached and we knew they would make a run at us . . . anytime you have Dara Zack you always are in the game.
The Jackets shot 41.7 percent for the game (20-for-48). SMU shot 43.1 percent from the field (22-for-51).
The Jackets and the Saints split two regular-season meetings this season. MSUB beat Saint Martins, 62-61, on Jan. 22 in Billings. The Saints beat the Jackets, 63-55, at Marcus Pavilion on Feb. 17. MSUB leads the all-time series, 16-8, with an 8-2 record at home.