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Montana State-Billings Athletics | November 4, 2021

Previewing the 2021 D2CCA Tip Off Classic at the Trailhead

Lubbock Christian wins DII women's basketball championship

BILLINGS, Mont. — Kicking off the 2021-22 season with one of the premier NCAA Division II events, the Montana State University Billings women's basketball team is set to host the D2CCA Tip Off Classic at the Trailhead tournament this weekend at Alterowitz Gym.

The 15-game, three-day event will showcase 10 of the top women's basketball programs in the country and will be the largest women's basketball tournament ever hosted by the Yellowjacket program. "I was very excited to hear MSUB was chosen to host the D2 CCA Women's Basketball Tipoff Classic for 2021 and 2023," said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin, who enters his 18th season in charge of the program. "To have 10 teams coming now for the tourney is amazing. We have teams representing six different NCAA DII conferences and from all over the United States and Canada. The level of play will be incredible and our basketball program will benefit from this special event. I truly hope people will attend as the Tipoff Classic will be awesome for both MSUB and our community. I really wanted to get this event to Billings to showcase women's basketball on a national stage."

PRESEASON POWER 10: Lubbock Christian leads the preseason Power 10

The D2CCA Tip Off Classic at the Trailhead is sponsored by Visit Billings, the city's local tourism bureau. Other tournament sponsors include Home 2 Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Sodexo, and Dynamic Designs. "Visit Billings could not be more excited to partner with MSU Billings Athletics in their team's efforts to welcome this invitational event this weekend," said Alex Tyson, executive director of Visit Billings. "Women's basketball is such an important sport to Montana and Wyoming. To be able to host these top teams in a pre-season tournament is great economically for Billings, but will also offer some amazing competition for fans to enjoy at Alterowitz Gym."

The tournament field includes teams from seven different states and six different conferences, including two-time reigning NCAA Division II national champion Lubbock Christian University which went 23-0 en route to defending its national title last March. All games at the tournament will be played at Alterowitz Gym on the MSUB campus. A full tournament schedule is available at www.msubsports.com.

The tournament host Yellowjackets will take on Minot State University on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., before facing the challenge of the reigning national champion Chaparrals at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6. MSUB will close the tournament by hosting Kutztown University on Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

The Yellowjacket women's basketball team will enter the tournament with momentum, coming off exhibition wins over Rocky Mountain College on Oct. 27 (59-50) and Montana Tech on Monday (67-54). Preseason all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection Taryn Shelley put forth a monstrous 19-point, 15-rebound double-double in the win over Montana Tech, and enters the season after earning all-conference honors in each of her first two years at MSUB.

The host team's list of talented returners includes hometown sophomore guard Shayla Montague, who hit a career-high six 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the exhibition win over the Orediggers. Junior Cariann Kunkel, who co-led the team in rebounding at 7.5 boards per game while scoring 14.0 points in 2020-21, is back after breaking in during the modified season. She will be joined by her Wenatchee Valley College teammate Natalie Andreas, who will make her Yellowjacket debut this year.

Senior Addison Gardner, from Great Falls, returns to the starting lineup in her final collegiate season, along with senior Shannon Reny from Libby to round out the Yellowjackets' veteran leadership.

CHAMPS: See every DII women's basketball champion

Three talented point guards adorn MSUB's roster, with returners Skylar Patton and Danielle Zahn being joined by true freshman Aspen Giese of Fort Benton. Patton led the way with 9.0 points per game in her first year at MSUB last spring, while Zahn was sidelined with an injury that she has fully recovered from.

Other difference makers last spring included freshmen Kortney Nelson of Scobey and Dyauni Boyce of Winifred, who averaged 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 rebounds, respectively. Marie Five of Crow Agency saw action in six games as a true freshman last spring, and newcomer Chloe Williams from Liberty Lake, Washington, will get her collegiate career started this fall.

This weekend's tournament marks the first of four early-season events the Yellowjackets are scheduled to compete in, and will be followed by the Holy Names Classic in Oakland, Calif. (Nov. 12-13), the Dacotah Bank Classic in Aberdeen, S.D. (Nov. 26-27), and the Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas (Dec. 17-18). The Yellowjackets will play a complete, 18-game Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule, beginning at home on Dec. 2 against Northwest Nazarene and Dec. 4 against Central Washington. The race to the 2022 GNAC Championships, hosted by Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Wash., on March 3-5, will continue at the turn of the calendar year. MSUB will look for its first postseason berth since making the tournament in 2019-20 – the last time the event was held before the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. The top-six teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the conference tournament – an event MSUB has qualified for seven times since its inception during the 2010-11 campaign.

Click or tap here for the tournament schedule and live statistics.

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