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Coming off a big weekend of games in Washington, there was the strong possibility of an emotional letdown for the Montana State-Billings women’s basketball team.

Particularly when the opponent was a 5-21 University of Great Falls program.

“You would think so,” offered Amber Zylawy, a junior forward for the Lady Yellowjackets. “But not this team. We’re very motivated and know we have room to improve.

“We play hard for each other.”

The Lady Yellowjackets’ defense simply overwhelmed the Lady Argos, as MSU-B rolled to an 89-59 victory Wednesday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium.

The win pushed the Lady Yellowjackets’ record to 17-3. MSU-B has won 17 in a row at home dating back to last season. It was the team’s 15th win by a double-digit margin and ninth win by 20 points or more.

The University of Great Falls, from the NAIA Frontier Conference, is 5-22.

The MSU-B defense limited the Lady Argos to 33 percent shooting from the field for the game and 27 percent in the first half. The Lady Yellowjackets’ unrelenting pressure also helped cause 33 UGF turnovers.

MSU-B led 55-26 by halftime.

“Every game, we want to play our A game, no matter who we’re playing,” said Zylawy, who had a team-high four steals, all in the first half.

“Our offense feeds off our defense. We get a lot of stops and then come down the court with a lot of confidence.”

Lady Yellowjacket center Natalie Visger made all five of her shot attempts in the first half and finished with a game-high 18 points. Visger, sixth in the nation for free throw percentage, helped herself a little more by going 4 of 4 from the free throw line. She is 55 of 61 from the free throw line (90 percent) this season.

She was one of four MSU-B players to finish in double figures.

Becky Jacobs had 14 points, while Kami Malnaa scored all 12 of her points in the first half on four 3-pointers. Robyn Milne registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The unselfish Lady Yellowjackets had six players with three or more assists.

In the first three minutes of the second half, MSU-B forced six Lady Argo turnovers and limited the visitors to just one shot.

“At halftime, we talked about being more intense on defense,” said Zylawy, who added seven points and three rebounds.

MSU-B led by as many as 39, 81-42 late in the game.

Kim Freeman led UGF with 13 points, 10 in the second half. Teammate Karen Sauvola had 11.

The Lady Yellowjackets host another Frontier Conference team, Carroll College, Friday night at 7 p.m.

“We don’t underestimate anybody,” Zylawy stressed. “We take it one game at a time. We want to improve every time we take the court.”MSU-Billings 89, U-Great Falls 59University of Great Falls (5-22) – Erin Acra 2-6, 3-4, 7; Karen Sauvola 4-13, 3-5, 11; Samantha Garrett 2-4, 1-2, 5; Brook Rasby 1-2, 2-4, 4; Kim Freeman 4-10, 3-4, 13; Sandi Washburn 1-6, 3-4, 5; Amy Patera 2-9, 0-0, 4; Deidre Ranf 0-1, 2-2, 2; Jennifer Anderson 2-4, 2-2, 8. Totals: 18-55, 19-27, 59. 3-point goals: 4-15 (Anderson 2-3, Freeman 2-3, Sauvola 0-3, Patera 0-6). Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Sauvola. Technical fouls: bench. Rebounds: 49 (Garrett 8). Assists: 11 (Patera 4). Steals: 3. Blocked shots: 5 (Ranf 2, Washburn 2). Turnovers: 33.

Montana State-Billings (17-3) – Becky Jacobs 5-9, 3-4, 14; Jessica Bachmann 4-9, 0-0, 8; Natalie Visger 7-9, 4-4, 18; Amy Bantz 2-9, 2-2, 7; Kami Malnaa 4-8, 0-0, 12; Jessica Henigman 1-4, 2-2, 4; Marie Dyk 1-5, 0-0, 3; Amber Zylawy 2-11, 2-2, 7; Robyn Milne 4-8, 2-4, 10; Brittani Benson 3-7, 0-0, 6; Brynn Meredith 0-2, 0-0,0. Totals: 33-81, 15-18, 89. 3-point goals: 8-17 (Malnaa 4-6, Bantz 1-2, Zylawy 1-2, Dyk 1-3, Bachmann 0-1, Benson 0-1). Fouls: 20. Rebounds: 43 (Milne 10). Assists: 22 (Jacobs 4, Dyk 4). Steals: 15 (Zylawy 4). Blocked shots: 6 (Visger 2, Milne 2, Henigman 2). Turnovers: 13.

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