Leif Anderson fights off an MSUB Yellowjacket on the court. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin
by Emma Calvert
Western men’s basketball lost its edge on its Thursday, Jan. 17 home game in overtime against the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets in Sam Carver Gymnasium with a final score of 81-72. With a strong start but a high turnover rate, the Vikings put forth a valiant effort but couldn’t pull it together come overtime.
While Western kept a solid lead throughout the first half and through part of the second, they eventually lost their lead when the Yellowjackets tied the game near the end of the second half, forcing extra time.
Throughout the game junior guard Leif Anderson showed impressive shooting skills, hitting 4-6 3-point shots for Western. Anderson credited this improvement in recent games to increased confidence.
“Getting good looks from my teammates, which is just creating trust with me and I’m hitting ‘em,” Anderson said in explaining the source of his newfound confidence.
MSUB took advantage of Western’s team being plagued by turnovers which resulted in 13 points off of 19 turnovers compared to only six points off of five turnovers for the Vikings.
The Vikings’ 41.3 percent field goal shooting for the game was decent compared to MSUB’s 39.5 percent. However, despite shooting the ball with high energy and good effort they still fell just short of success.
Western also performed well on the defensive end, led predominantly by sophomore forward Luke Lovelady making four strong blocks, with the team as a whole securing a total of eight blocks, compared to the Yellowjackets’ five.
“I will just try to work my hardest out here… I’m a team player and I just want to do whatever’s best for the team,” Lovelady said. His four blocks are even more impressive considering he only committed one foul. “Whatever the team needs, that’s just what I’m trying to do.”
The Yellowjackets’ bench also played a crucial role in the game and ended up scoring a nod-worthy 27 points compared to nine points by Western’s bench.
When it came down to overtime, the Vikings struggled with their shooting. They went 2-2 on their free throws but only hit two shots from the field for a disappointing 22.2 percent field goal percentage, resulting in six total points in extra time. Comparatively, the Yellowjackets managed to hit 80.0 percent of their shots in overtime and also hit 5-7 from the free throw line to clinch the win.
Leading the Vikings throughout overtime was senior guard Tyler Payne, who scored both his team’s baskets during extra time. His hustle was evident toward the end of overtime when he positioned himself to take a charge and took possession of the ball back from the Yellowjackets.
While drawing charges can be tricky, having the right mindset and desire helps, which is just what Payne did.
“I just wanted to be aggressive for my team,” Payne said. “I felt like I had them rolling a bit, I just wanted to perform with my best effort and come out with a win but unfortunately we came up short.”
This loss puts the Viking’s overall record at 10-8, with their Great Northwest Athletic Conference record falling to 4-4.
The Vikings will be back out in Carver gym on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. with a GNAC home game against University of Alaska Fairbanks.
This game brief was updated with more information on Saturday, Jan. 19. For more coverage on Western athletics follow @WFSportsLive on Twitter.