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Sports News Briefs

MSU-B women beat No. 7 teamSAN ANTONIO, Texas – Kami Malnaa and Natalie Visger combined for 30 points to help Montana State-Billings defeat seventh-ranked St. Mary’s University, 62-52, Thursday night in women’s basketball.

MSU-B improves to 21-3. The Lady Yellowjackets play at Incarnate Word on Saturday. MSU-B is ranked fourth in the NCAA Division II West Region.

The Rattlers, the top-ranked team in the South Central Region, are 23-2. It was their first home loss of the season.

“Every time we needed a shot, we hit them. People hit some key shots when we needed them,” said Karyn Pilskalns, the MSU-B head coach. “The key was our defense, focus and togetherness.”

Malnaa, a senior guard, finished with a game-high 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Visger, a junior center, added 13 points and eight rebounds. Senior forward Becky Jacobs had a team-high nine rebounds along with a team-best seven assists. Junior center Jessica Henigman blocked four shots.

The MSU-B defense limited St. Mary’s to just 18 points and 27 percent shooting from the field in the first half. The Lady Yellowjackets led 36-18 at halftime.

“They had some really good post players,” said Malnaa of MSU-B’s defensive focus. “So we just packed it inside. Our defense played extremely well.”

Meosha Nash and Erin Griffin each had 13 points for the Rattlers.Bulls looking to turn things aroundWinless in their last three games, the Billings Bulls hope to turn things around this weekend in the final leg of a five-game road trip.

The Bulls, 30-9-4 (64 points) and in second place in the league standings, will take on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (22-13-9, 53 points) tonight and Saturday. Air time is 9:15 p.m. both nights on 95.5 FM.

One key area Billings will be trying to shore up is its defense. In their last three contests – which resulted in two losses at Fernie and one at Helena – the Bulls have given up a total of 17 goals, which hadn’t been the standard the team had set for itself while giving up the third-fewest goals in the league so far.

Billings has won all four meetings against Fairbanks this season, and has only given up 8 goals total in those games while tallying 19 of its own.

After playing Fairbanks, Billings will return home to take on Great Falls on Feb. 27.Cats have 2 key home gamesThe Montana State men’s basketball team can take two more large steps in clinching the regular season Big Sky Conference title with home games against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.

The Bobcats are a league-leading 9-2 in the Big Sky and 16-8 overall. MSU will play NAU (6-4, 13-10) tonight and Sacramento State (3-7, 9-15) on Saturday. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.

The winner of the regular season title earns the right to host the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

The rock band Pie, featuring MSU football players Ryan Johnson and Willy Jacobson will play prior to the NAU game. The band will do a set when the gates open at 5:30 p.m.

The University of Montana (5-6, 11-13) will play Sacramento State tonight and NAU on Saturday.

Both games begin at 7:35 p.m.Figure skating event at CentennialThe Figure Skating Club of Billings will host its 9th annual invitational event today, Saturday and Sunday at Centennial Arena.

More than 150 skaters from Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota will be competing.

Times and competition are as follows: today (dance, jumps and spins day) 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday (artistic day) noon to 10 p.m., Sunday (showcase day) 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Admission is free.Skyview’s Maier finalist for awardBillings Skyview coach Dave Maier is a finalist for the National High School Coaches Association coach of the year in wrestling.

Overall, 30 coaches were recommended and eight were named finalists said John Fontana of the NHSCA. Things looked upon when trimming the list to eight were years of coaching, winning percentage, championship years, honors, and service to the sport.

Maier has been coaching Skyview for 15 seasons and the Falcons have won five state AA championships, including this past season when they set the AA state scoring record with 310 points. This season, Maier’s teams went a perfect 17-0 in duals and the coach notched his 200th career dual victory. His career record in duals is 205-68-1.

The national convention is June 26-28 in Middletown, Conn. On the last day of the convention a banquet will be held and each of the eight finalists will receive a plaque. The winner in each respective sport will then be announced.Western women fall to No. 4The University of Montana-Western, winners of 15 consecutive women’s basketball games, dropped a spot to No. 4 in this week’s NAIA Top 25 rankings.

The Lady Bulldogs, 26-3 overall, have already claimed the Frontier Conference regular-season championship. They have not lost a game since Dec. 8.

Oklahoma City, with all 12 first-place votes, is the No. 1 team in the country at 26-1. Southern Nazarene of Oklahoma (24-3) and Union College of Tennessee (26-3) are also ranked ahead of Western.

Lewis-Clark State of Lewiston, Idaho, 19-9 overall and sitting in second in the Frontier, remained at No. 22.

For the men, Carroll College, which lost in overtime at Lewis-Clark State last week, dropped from No. 10 to No. 14. The Saints are 22-6 overall and have clinched the regular-season Frontier title.

L-C State, 21-8, moved up one spot to No. 24 in the national balloting.

Georgetown College of Kentucky, 29-1, is No. 1.Pee Wee team takes state titleThe Billings Junior Bulls captured the Montana Pee Wee A hockey championship last weekend in Missoula.

The Bulls defeated Helena A 9-0, Helena B 9-1 and Missoula 7-2 to reach the title game and topped Bozeman 4-1 in the championship.

The team now advances to the Rocky Mountain Tier II regional tournament next month in Texas.

The Bulls have a record of 20-1 this season and have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 192-18.

The team consists of 17 players from Castle Rock, Will James, Lewis & Clark, Boulder, Alkali Creek, Eagle Cliffs and Bitterroot Schools and is coached by Greg Smith, Phil Madden and Bob Pike.

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