Erickson shines as Bulldogs hold off Argos

UMW News Bureau

After building a big lead the University of Montana Western Bulldogs held on to defeat the University of Great Falls Argos 66-63 in a men’s basketball game at the Straugh Gymnasium in Dillon Saturday night. By Lowell Peterson After building a big lead the University of Montana Western Bulldogs held on to defeat the University of Great Falls Argos 66-63 in a men’s basketball game at the Straugh Gymnasium in Dillon Saturday night. Montana Western came out on fire and in just over seven minutes into the game raced out to a 26-8 advantage. The Bulldogs made seven of their first 10 three point attempts as they dominated Great Falls on both ends of the court. Montana Western led by as many as 23 points in the first half against a stunned Argo team. Kyle Erickson and Tyler Hurley led the Bulldog barrage. Erickson, coming off a career high 32 points Friday night against MSU-Northern, scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made five of six three point attempts. Hurley nailed three of six three point attempts and ended the half with 13 points. Leading scorer Brandon Brown was scoreless but dished out eight assists and the first half ended with the Bulldogs on top 43-21. Second half action saw the Bulldogs maintain their big lead and with 13:54 left in the game they still led by 21 points, 49-28. At that point Great Falls came to life and Montana Western’s offense went ice cold. The Argos mounted a 17-0 run (10 points from Leon Sutton) in a five minute stretch to cut the Bulldog lead to four points, 49-45, with 9:11 remaining. What had appeared to be a blowout was suddenly a hotly contested game with momentum on the Argos side. Erickson broke the scoring drought for Montana Western with a big three point shot to stop the Argo onslaught and up the Bulldog lead to seven points, 52-45. Aggressive defense by Great Falls led to fouls and three free throws from Bridger Chambers and two by Brown kept the Bulldogs ahead by seven points with 1:48 to play. After a Ken Anderson basket brought the Argos to within five points, Erickson hit his seventh three pointer of the game to extend the Bulldog lead to 62-54 with just under a minute to go. Montana Western made enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the Argos and Great Falls scored four points in the last seven seconds of the game to account for the final score. Erickson finished with his second consecutive outstanding game, scoring 31 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. He also had two assists, a team high three steals and made seven of nine three point shots. Hurley finished the night with 14 points and Chambers had seven. Brown scored eight points and led the team in assists with 10. As a team Montana Western shot .408 (20-49) from the field, .370 (10-27) on three pointers and .571 (16-28) from the free throw line. Sutton was the only Argo in double figures with 18 points (all in the second half). Melvin Williams finished with nine points and Marcel Townes had eight. Miguel Bocachica was the rebound leader with seven and Williams had three assists. Townes and Sutton each had three steals. University of Great Falls was .391 (25-64) from the field, .273 (6-22) from beyond the three point line and .636 (7-11) on free throws. Montana Western remained in first place in the Frontier Conference with an 8-3 record and improved to 20-7 overall. The victory gives the Bulldogs their third straight 20 victory season under fifth-year head coach Steve Keller. Great Falls fell to 5-5 in the conference and 17-8 overall. Both teams play at home next weekend. Great Falls hosts Carroll College (5-5, 12-10) on Feb. 17 and Rocky Mountain (4-6, 11-14) on Feb. 18. Montana Western plays their final regular season home game against Montana Tech (3-8, 11-11) in the Straugh Gymnasium Friday night, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.