UMW News BureauThe Bulldog basketball women's and men's teams will be home this weekend as they face Westminster College on Friday, Feb. 4 and then Lewis-Clark State on Saturday, Feb. 5. The women begin both nights at 5:30 p.m. while the men follow each night at 7:30 p.m. By Brett Morehouse & Lowell Peterson The Bulldog basketball women's and men's teams will be home this weekend as they face Westminster College on Friday, Feb. 4 and then Lewis-Clark State on Saturday, Feb. 5. The women begin both nights at 5:30 p.m. while the men follow each night at 7:30 p.m. Winning at home has always been important for teams hoping to compete for a conference championship and this year it is especially true due to the competitive balance in the Frontier Conference. For the men, the Westminster Griffins stand alone at the top with a 5-2 record (17-4 overall) halfway through the conference schedule. The Griffins are on a current four-game winning streak, which includes a home victory over previous conference leader Montana State University-Northern. The University of Montana Western (16-6), Carroll College (14-6), Lewis-Clark State (14-6) and MSU-Northern (15-7) are bunched up in a four-way tie for second place with conference records of 4-3. Rocky Mountain College (10-13) currently is sixth with a 3-4 record. Rounding out the conference standings at 2-5 are the University of Great Falls Argos (9-13) and Montana Tech Orediggers (4-16). Even though tied for last place, the Argos and Orediggers can’t be taken lightly; Tech defeated Westminster on the road in the conference opener for both teams and UGF knocked off Lewis-Clark last weekend on the Warriors’ home court, showing that all teams need to be taken seriously this year. Friday’s matchup between Montana Western and Westminster will feature four of the top five scorers in the Frontier Conference. Bulldog point guard Brandon Brown is the leader with an average of 19.14 points per game (PPG) and teammate Cody Thueringer is fifth at 15.43. The Griffins starting guards, Michael Stockton (17.86 PPG) and Jake Orchard (17.43 PPG) are ranked third and fourth. The scoring leader for L-C State is David Johnson (14.10 PPG), good for seventh in the conference. In addition to being scorers, Brown and Stockton are excellent passers. Brown tops the conference in assists at 5.29 per game and Stockton is second at 4.62. Saturday visitor Jeray Key of Lewis-Clark State ranks third at 3.80 assists. Orchard and Stockton are the top field goal percentage shooters at .557 and .552, respectively. Brown is third at .514 and Thueringer is fifth at .470. In shooting beyond the three-point line, the Bulldogs’ Jared Smithson (.414) and Thueringer (.395) rank second and fifth and Brown is eighth (.358). Jared Giammona of L-C State is seventh at .376. The Bulldogs’ Kyle Perry is fourth in rebounding with 7.18 grabs per game. Tanner Gregory (6.00) of Westminster and David Johnson (5.70) of L-C State are sixth and eighth, respectively. Perry is also tied for first in blocked shots per game at 1.68 while Donte Roberts of L-C State is third with 1.65. Westminster has three of the top five free-throw shooters in the conference. Stockton (.812) is second, Orchard (.809) is third and AJ Reilly (.750) is fifth. Montana Western’s Tyler Hurley (.732) ranks seventh followed by two Warriors at eighth and ninth, Johnson (.719) and Key (.698). The three teams playing at the Straugh Gymnasium this weekend are the top three scoring teams in the conference. Lewis-Clark State leads with 79.20 points per game followed by Montana Western (75.96) and Westminster (75.86). Defensively, Westminster is second allowing just 65.10 points per game. Montana Western (65.86) and L-C State (68.15) rank fourth and fifth. This weekend’s games will be a great opportunity to see some of the top players in the Frontier Conference and three of the top teams battle it out. For those who are not able to attend, log on to the Montana Western website (http://my.umwestern.edu/athletics/) and choose the “Watch Live” connection. The University of Montana Western women’s basketball team will begin the second half of the Frontier Conference season with two home games against two nationally-ranked opponents. The Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 80-71 road win against Rocky Mountain College. On Friday night, the Bulldogs will play host to ninth-ranked Westminster College before hosting 10th-ranked Lewis-Clark State College on Saturday. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 5:30 p.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium. At 19-4 overall and 6-1 in conference play, the Westminster Griffins will enter their game against Montana Western on a six-game winning streak and with a one-game lead in the Frontier Conference standings. Westminster features one of the most potent offenses in the Frontier, averaging more than 80 points per contest. Through the first half of conference play, the Griffins have four players averaging more than 10 points per game: Dani Evans (14.6), Nicole Yazzie (14.0), Michele Pace (13.0) and Brooke Larsen (10.4). Lewis-Clark State College, currently ranked #10 in NAIA Division I, will begin weekend play with a 19-3 overall record and 5-2 in conference play. The Warriors feature one of the most dynamic scorers in the nation, Jasmine Stohr. The 6’0” guard has averaged 18 points per game through the first half of Frontier Conference play. Montana Western hopes to take advantage of a favorable schedule as they seek to climb back into the Frontier Conference race. The Bulldogs will play four of their final seven games at home. Montana Western is led by reigning Frontier Conference Player of the Week Sammi Bignell. The 5’10” guard from Avon, Mont. averaged 23.5 points per game this past weekend as the Bulldogs came away with an important split on the road against Carroll College and Rocky Mountain College. With a 20-rebound performance against Rocky, Bulldog sophomore post Hayley Pettit solidified her spot as the leading rebounder in the Frontier Conference with an average of 11.57 boards per game.
The University of Montana Western has launched a national search for the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position.