Bulldogs survive Montana Tech rally

UMW News Bureau

The University of Montana Western Bulldogs men’s basketball team survived a furious rally by the Orediggers over the last ten minutes of the game and held on to defeat Montana Tech 65-61 Saturday night. By Lowell Peterson The University of Montana Western Bulldogs men’s basketball team survived a furious rally by the Orediggers over the last ten minutes of the game and held on to defeat Montana Tech 65-61 Saturday night. “Nobody said road games would be easy,” Western coach Steve Keller said after the excitement. “But we got the win. This was a big one for us.” The atmosphere was electric and the stands full in the HYPER Complex on the Montana Tech campus when the game tipped off. The teams battled evenly and the game was tied 11-11 with 12:11 remaining in the first half when the Bulldogs went on a 19-6 run fueled by Bridger Chambers. Chambers nailed three three-point shots to put Montana Western on top 30-17 with 6:23 remaining. The Bulldogs upped the lead to 39-21 when Brandon Brown stole the ball and raced to the basket for a thunderous left-handed dunk. Fouls by the Bulldogs sent the Orediggers to the free throw line and Tyree Haynie made four charity tosses and Tanner Neumann one as the half ended with Montana Western on top 39-26. Montana Western controlled the first ten minutes of the second half and with 10:24 to play still had a fifteen point lead, 56-41. The Orediggers continued to play hard and gained the momentum, going on a 20-7 run to cut the score to 63-61 with thirty seconds to play. After the Bulldogs’ Tyler Hurley missed the front end of a free throw with twenty-four seconds left, Montana Tech got the ball with a chance to tie the game. Haynie penetrated the lane and put up a tough running shot that missed the mark and Kyle Erickson grabbed the rebound for the Bulldogs. Tech fouled and Erickson went to the free throw line with 1.1 seconds to play, hitting both shots to clinch the victory for Montana Western. “Ty did exactly what we wanted him to do at the end of the game — take the ball to the rim,” Oredigger head coach Aaron Woliczko said. “We need to give our guys the opportunity to get to the rim or get fouled. (Western) played great defense at the end.” “We played a great first half,” Keller said. “We got a little tentative in the second half and missed some shots, but Tech came out with some intensity. (Woliczko) is doing a great job with them. Tech is competitive with everyone they play.” Brown led the Bulldogs in scoring with 21 points (17 in the first half) and four assists. Erickson, who played just over four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, scored 12 points in the second half to finish with 14. Erickson also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Kyle Perry grabbed seven rebounds and Hurley had six. Chambers finished with nine points and Jake Owsley scored seven and led the team with three steals. As a team Montana Western shot .473 (26-55) from the field, .316 (6-19) on three pointers and .583 (7-12) from the free throw line. Haynie led the Orediggers with 19 points, three assists and four steals. Adam Greger scored 13 points and Daniel Simon added 11. Cole Conway was the rebound leader with eight. Montana Tech was .393 (22-56) from the field, .240 (6-25) from beyond the three point line and .579 (11-19) on free throws. Montana Western improved to 16-5 on the season and remained tied with Montana State-Northern at the top of the conference with a 4-1 record. The Orediggers dropped to 10-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Montana Tech is in a six-way tie for third place in the conference. The lack of separation in the records of the three through eight spots shows the strength and parity of the Frontier Conference.