Bulldog basketball wins three, loses one on road
Written by David Nolt
UMW News Bureau
The University of Montana Western Bulldogs returned to Dillon, Mont. from their weekend road games with three collective wins. The women improved their record significantly with two impressive wins against Montana State University-Northern (MSU-Northern) and the University of Great Falls (UGF). The men lost a last-second heartbreaker to the MSU-Northern Skylights but bounced back to defeat the UGF Argonauts in overtime. By Brett Morehouse & Lowell Peterson
The University of Montana Western Bulldogs returned to Dillon, Mont. from their weekend road games with three collective wins. The women improved their record significantly with two impressive wins against the Montana State University-Northern (MSU-Northern) Skylights and the University of Great Falls (UGF) Argonauts. The men lost a last-second heartbreaker to the MSU-Northern Lights but bounced back to defeat the UGF Argonauts in overtime.
The University of Montana Western vs. Montana State University-Northern
After opening Friday’s game with a 13-3 run, the MSU-Northern women controlled the first half of play by taking advantage of untimely Bulldog turnovers and dominating Montana Western on the boards, 22-14. All but one of the Skylight players who entered play in the first half contributed to the scoring column as their balanced offensive attack led to a 39-34 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs would respond in the second half, twice cutting the lead to four points before the Skylights went on a 14-4 run to establish a 59-45 lead with 9:50 to play in the game.
After a timeout by Montana Western coach Cara Cocchiarella the Bulldogs once again responded to adversity by exploding on a 23-4 run to vault into the lead, 68-63, with just 1:51 to play.
Two long-range three-point shots by Laramie Schwenke would put the Skylights back into the game before a Hayley Pettit basket in the post with 15 seconds to play would seal the victory for the Bulldogs.
The big road victory put Montana Western at 3-7 in conference and 7-15 overall. Hayley Pettit led the way with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Other Bulldog contributors included Nicole Tams with 17 points, Sammi Bignell with 13 points, and Chloe Mosey with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Following the women, the Lights edged out the Bulldogs 69-65 in the last seconds of the game. With the score tied 65-65 and time running out, MSU-Northern’s Devon Jackson penetrated just inside the free-throw line and arched up a running, one-legged shot. With just over two seconds remaining in the game the high floater kissed off the glass and dropped through the bottom of the net giving the Skylights the lead over the Bulldogs 67-65.
Montana Western in-bounded the ball quickly as players from the MSU-Northern bench and their fans from the student section ran onto the floor. The Bulldogs were called for a sideline out-of-bounds on the play with the time on the clock under a second. A heated protest from the Bulldog bench about Lights players from the bench being on the court resulted in a technical foul on the Bulldogs. Two free throws by the Lights ended the game in favor of MSU-Northern, 69-65.
The game was a battle from the beginning and neither team led by more than single digits at any point in the contest. The Lights scorched the nets in the opening half, making eight of 11 three-point attempts to hold a slim lead at the break, 37-36. The Bulldogs made five of eight on their three-point attempts as the teams’ combined finish for the half was 13 of 19 from behind the arc.
The Lights finished the night 26 for 53 (.491) on overall field-goal attempts, 10-19 (.526) on three-point shots and seven of 12 (.583) from the free-throw line. Montana Western shot even better going 22 for 40 (.550) from the field, six for 10 (.600) on three-point shots and 15 for 19 (.789) from the free-throw line.
All nine players scored for the Lights. Jackson, making five of six three-point shots, led the way with 18 points. Joe Simpson matched Jackson with 18 points of his own and added a team-high seven rebounds. David Maddock came off the bench to score 11, making three of six three-point shots.
The Bulldogs had only two players score in double figures. Frontier Conference scoring leader Brandon Brown had an outstanding game for the Bulldogs. Brown scored a game-high 34 points, netting 17 in each half. The Tacoma, Wash. junior had the hot hand all night, going 11-16 from the field. Three of Brown’s field goals were from long range. Brown also sunk nine of 11 free-throw attempts. Cody Thueringer scored 10 points and Kyle Perry finished the night with nine. Tyler Hurley was the Bulldogs’ leading rebounder with six.
The victory moved MSU-Northern to 6-3 in conference play and into a first place tie with Carroll College. The Lights’ overall record improved to 17-7. Montana Western dropped into a tie for third with Westminster at 6-4 in the conference and an overall record of 18-7 on the year.
The University of Montana Western vs. the University of Great Falls
On Saturday, the Bulldogs headed south to the University of Great Falls to face the Argonauts.
The Montana Western women’s team backed up their impressive win at MSU-Northern with another big conference road victory, defeating the Argonauts 79-73.
Montana Western and UGF traded baskets in the early stages of the game before the Bulldogs used some hot shooting to build a 49-36 lead at halftime. Montana Western shot a blistering 61 percent in the first half, including 5-7 from long range.
Junior Nicole Tams and senior Chloe Mosey combined for 32 first-half points while shooting a combined 13-17 from the floor (76 percent).
Montana Western would maintain a double-digit lead throughout the second half before poor free-throw shooting by the Bulldgos and a string of Argonauts baskets in the final minute cut the lead to six as the buzzer sounded.
The Argonauts were led in scoring by Kezia Ford, who tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds. Chelsea Adams also totaled 20 points, including a 3-5 performance from the three-point line.
The Bulldogs placed four players in double-digit scoring; Mosey led the attack with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Tams finished the game with 17 points while Hayley Pettit and Kassie Kerbs each contributed 11. Alecia Wilson dished out nine of the 20 Bulldog assists to go along with her five rebounds, two steals, and a blocked shot.
The weekend sweep vaults the Bulldogs to 4-7 in conference play (8-15 overall) and from eighth to sixth place in Frontier Conference standings. Montana Western now sits just two games out of third place and will have the opportunity to play their last three games against the three teams that currently stand in their way of hosting a conference tournament game.
Following the Bulldog women, the men edged out the Argonauts in overtime 81-79.
Trailing by three points six minutes into the game, the Argonauts went on a 12-3 run that pushed the score to 25-16; they would later match that nine-point lead with six minutes to play in the first half, 33-24. Montana Western battled back and cut the UGF lead to one, 33-32, at the 3:41 mark on a Brandon Brown free throw. The first half ended with the Argos on top by six, 38-32. Marcel Towns and Mark Celaya scored 12 points each in the first half to lead the Argos, while Brown and Cody Thueringer paced the Bulldogs with 11 each.
The Argonauts stayed on top as the second period progressed and led 45-38 at the 15:15 mark. Two quick fouls within 13 seconds on UMW’s Brandon Brown, his third and fourth of the game, made the outlook bleak for the Bulldogs. Brown scored a layup on a UGF turnover before Montana Western head coach Steve Keller could get him out of the game, making the score 45-40. The Bulldog point guard went to the bench with 14:20 left in the game.
After UGF pushed the lead to seven at 47-40, Gabe Rucker spearheaded a Bulldog 7-0 run that tied the game at 47-47. The teams exchanged the lead a several more times before tying the game for the fourth time in the second half at 53-53. Two Brandon Brown free throws put the Bulldogs back on top.
Though the Bulldogs seemed to be in control of the game, the Argonauts mounted a furious comeback. With 10 seconds remaining, Brown sank one of two free throws to put the Bulldogs on top, 66-63. With time running out, UGF got off a wide open three point shot that missed the mark. Mark Celaya grabbed the offensive rebound, stepped back behind the three point line and hit the shot with 0.9 seconds left to tie the game 66-66, forcing the overtime.
L.J. Jones scored first in the extra period putting UGF on top 68-66. The Bulldogs would go on a 7-0 run, capped by two Thueringer free throws with one minute remaining, putting UMW ahead 75-68. The consensus in the gym was that the game was over, but the Argonauts would not quit. Missed free throws by the Bulldogs and three-point shots by Marcel Towns and Mark Celaya gave UGF hope for another comeback. The Argos had the ball, down 81-79 with less than three seconds remaining, but a wild three-point attempt fell well short as the buzzer sounded.
The big three came through again for the Bulldogs in their victory. Brown, coming off a 34-point scoring surge against MSU-Northern, led UMW with 29 points, making 12 of 15 free throws on the night. Thueringer added 18 points, making seven of eight free throws, and Tyler Hurley scored 14, 11 coming in the second half.
The Bulldogs’ Kyle Erickson was the difference in the contest. Erickson came off the bench to post a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Six of his rebounds were offensive boards that led to extra scoring opportunities for his team. Erickson was six of nine from the field and five of six from the free throw line, also making his only three-point attempt of the night. Erickson also added two assists, three steals, and a blocked shot.
The win puts Montana Western at 7-4 in conference play, 19-7 overall. The Bulldogs are in a second place tie with Westminster just behind MSU-Northern at 7-3. Carroll College sits alone in fourth place at 6-4 in the conference. The Argonauts fell to 3-7 and 10-15 overall.