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David Arnold wasn't backing off now.

Being aggressive helped Montana State Billings build a 15-point second-half lead against one of the top teams in the nation.

A relentless and opportunistic defense pushed the pace against an opponent that preferred to play at a more leisurely speed.

This was not the time to go slow.

With his Montana State Billings team clinging to a three-point lead with less than 30 seconds to play, Arnold drove to the basket against Seattle Pacific.

And missed.

But like a good neighbor, Robert Mayes was there for the game-saving put-back.

With different players taking turns making big shots and strong plays on defense, the Yellowjackets earned their biggest win of the season, beating the Falcons 86-77 Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasiuim.

SPU is ranked 24th in NCAA Division II.

"Oh man, I was so happy,'' Arnold said of Mayes' big offensive rebound. "We had to stay aggressive. Luckily, Robert was there to get the rebound and make the play."

Arnold came off the bench to finish with a game-high 16 points, including 8 for 8 from the free throw line. The points included a crucial pull-up jumper after SPU had pulled within 73-68.

Antoine Proctor added 14 points for the Yellowjackets (10-7, 5-4), while Mayes had 13. All of Mayes' points and rebounds came in the second half. He played just three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

"He had no stats in the first half,'' said MSUB head coach Jamie Stevens. "I told Robert to go out and have his best half of the year."

Emery Henning and Jaxon Myaer had 11 points apiece for the Yellowjackets.

Cobi Wall led SPU (14-4, 6-3) with 14 points, all in the second half, while Cory Hutsen added 13, also all in the second half. The Falcons ranked third in the nation for scoring defense, allowing teams just 55 points a game..

"We wanted to attack them,'' said Arnold. "We had to play the game with a lot of energy.

"They are a team that plays comfortable. We wanted to use our speed and quickness to get them out of their rhythm."

The MSUB defense forced 15 SPU turnovers in the first half and 24 for the game. The Yellowjackets led 34-28 at halftime.

"The theme all week was push, push, tempo, tempo,'' Stevens said. "We didn't want to get into a slugfest with them. I'm proud of the way we played. Our guys played so hard.

"This is what we want to do all year, play aggressive defense. In the first half, we did an unbelievable job forcing that many turnovers. The second half, coach (Ryan) Looney is a great coach and they're a great team and they made the adjustments."

The Falcons made four consecutive 3-pointers -- including two by Wall -- to make it a single-digit game. Proctor's tip-in gave MSUB a 75-70 lead and he followed it with his biggest rebound of the season.

Proctor, out-numbered under the basket, came up with the ball after an SPU miss, was fouled and made two crucial free throws.

"That was huge,'' Arnold said. "Antoine was stuck under the basket, surrounded by three SPU guys and got his hand on the ball. That's a man's play."

Proctor, Arnold and Mayes combined to make 7 of 8 free throws in the final 1:34 of the game. It helped offset SPU's Riley Carel, who scored all seven of his points in the final 80 seconds. The Yellowjackets finished 25 of 29 from the line.

"I told Antoine his play won us the game,'' Stevens said.

Proctor also finished with six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

"Antoine has to realize the word is out. The rest of the league knows how good he is,'' continued Stevens. "They were in his pocket tonight. He might struggle at times with his shooting but he has to help the team win in other ways on the court and he did that."

Saturday was the Yellowajckets first win against a nationally-ranked opponent this season.

"We were a new team at the beginning of the season and we're starting to gel at the right time. The pieces are fitting together,'' Arnold said. "This shows we can play with the best teams in the league."

NOTES: MSUB continues its home stand with games against Western Oregon (Thursday) and Saint Martin's (Saturday) this week. ... SPU's 6-foot-11 center, Andy Poling, finished with eight points, half his season average as did teammate David Downs. ... Riley Stockton, a freshman guard for the Falcons, is the nephew of former NBA great John Stockton. Riley Stockton's brother Shawn is a guard for the University of Montana.

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