BILLINGS -- To borrow from baseball vernacular, Zharon Richmond was swinging for the fences.
Sprinting down the left side of the court late in the game, Richmond gathered a pass from teammate Kendall Denham with just one thought.
“I saw the 5-8 guy (Montana Tech defender) and I’m thinking dunk,” said the Montana State Billings freshman.
Richmond got what he wanted, helping the Yellowjackets finish off the Orediggers 89-66 Wednesday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium.
The game against Montana Tech was the first of three MSUB home games this week against Frontier Conference teams. The Yellowjackets (6-2) host the University of Providence on Friday and Rocky Mountain College on Saturday. Both are doubleheaders with the women’s team and part of EMC Throwback Weekend.
Sven Jeuschede led the Yellowjackets with a career-high 20 points, 16 in the second half, while Zack Rollins added 16 points, 13 in the second half. Richmond finished with a career-high 15 points, while Denham added 14 points and a career-high seven steals.
Jake Miles paced the Orediggers (5-5) with 17 points. It was an exhibition game for Montana Tech.
MSUB had to do some lineup shuffling when leading scorer Tyler Green went out early in the first half with an elbow injury. Green, averaging a team-high 15.5 points per game, did not return. The Yellowjackets were already without David Simental because of a knee injury.
“We were playing without our two (shooting) guards,” said Yellowjacket head coach Jamie Stevens. “We had to move some guys around.”
Stevens installed freshman Kobe Terashima at point guard, slid Denham into the shooting guard spot, and had Jeuschede play small forward. “Kendall hadn’t played the two guard all season,” Stevens said.
Denham and Jeuschede, who hails from Roesrath, Germany, each had four 3-pointers, while Terashima had six assists in 26 minutes.
“Sven played well tonight. He’s our best defender,” said Stevens. “When he gets his feet set, he showed he’s a good shooter.”
"We call Sven the German army knife because he knows all the positions," Richmond added.
Both Richmond and Terashima were solid, but also had some moments that caused their coach to cringe.
“I had a couple of weak turnovers in the first half and didn’t play much the rest of the way,” Richmond said. “You feel like you’re in the doghouse. You just have to come back and play harder.”
“The freshmen, sometimes they’re still going for the home run play,” said Stevens. “At the speed of this game, some things you can’t get away with that you did in high school. We tell them sometimes, you have to settle for singles and doubles. And they’re still going to have freshmen plays.”
MSUB led 42-41 at halftime but outscored the Orediggers 47-25 in the second half. The Yellowjackets helped force 17 second-half turnovers in the final 20 minutes. Montana Tech was limited to 16 field goal attempts in the second half.
“We played Yellowjacket basketball,” said Richmond.