Bulldog basketball splits games with Montana Tech

UMW News Bureau

The Bulldog women's team dropped their Saturday game to Montana Tech 78-71 while the men downed the Orediggers 69-52. The Montana Western women dropped to 4-8 in conference play and 8-16 overall. The men improved to 20-7 overall and 8-4 in conference play. By Brett Morehouse & Lowell Peterson A valiant comeback effort by the Montana Western women’s basketball team fell short on Saturday, Feb. 19 as the University of Montana Western Bulldogs dropped a critical Frontier Conference match-up against the Montana Tech Orediggers. Both teams exchanged baskets at the start of the game before the Orediggers were able to build their largest lead of the first half, 31-20 on a three-point field goal by Meghan Eisenmann. However, the resilient Bulldogs would counter with a 16-3 run over the final six minutes to take a 36-34 lead at halftime. Despite having multiple opportunities to open a sizable lead early in the second half, the Bulldogs allowed Montana Tech to climb back into the game. Renewed confidence would spark the Orediggers on an offensive run that would result in a 14 point Tech lead with just over nine minutes to play. As they have all season long, Montana Western would respond to adversity. Behind the post play of Hayley Pettit, the Bulldogs would cut the lead to five points on multiple occasions before eventually losing by seven, 71-78. Montana Tech was sparked by the impressive play of Taesha Higbee, who exploded for 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Eisenmann and Kesley DeWitt would each contribute 14 points to the Tech cause. Pettit led the Bulldogs with 20 points and nine rebounds. Sammi Bignell added 19 points and five boards while Nicole Tams contributed 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Montana Western drops to 4-8 in conference play and 8-16 overall. With two home games to finish out the season, the Bulldogs can still finish anywhere between fourth and seventh in the final conference standings. Following the women's game the Bulldog men defeated the Oredigger men for the second time this season. The Bulldogs' Kyle Perry scored the first points of the game: a powerful two-handed dunk, which gave his team a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night. The Bulldogs played intense defense forcing the Orediggers into difficult contested shots as they steadily built the lead throughout an opening period that ended with a 19-point halftime UMW lead, 31-12. Tech shot just four of 24 (.167) from the field and missed all eight of their three-point attempts. It took a 4-4 performance from the free throw line to enable them to reach double figures by halftime. In contrast Montana Western was 12-22 (.545) from the field with three made three-pointers and was four of seven from the free-throw line. Things did not get better for Montana Tech starting the second half as the Bulldogs’ Cody Thueringer, Mark Lussier, and Tyler Hurley hit back-to-back-to-back three-point shots to push the lead to 40-12 with 16:08 remaining. With 4:57 left in the game UMW’s Levi Simon converted an old-fashioned three-point play on a driving layup and free throw after being fouled giving the Bulldogs their largest lead of the night, 65-34. With all the Montana Western starters watching from the bench, Tech went on an 18-4 run to close out the game. In contrast to the first half, Tech made 14 of 22 second half shots (.636) and 18 of 46 (.391) for the game but ended the night 0-11 from three-point range. The Orediggers were 16-22 (.727) from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs ended the night 22 of 45 (.489) from the field, 9 of 21 (.429) from three-point range, and 16 of 23 (.696) from the free-throw line. Kellen Hasquet and Dirk Anderson led the Orediggers with 11 points each, nine of which came in the second half for both players. Anderson was the game’s top rebounder with five. A.J. Paine and Ivan Sljivar each scored seven. Brandon Brown led the Bulldogs with 16 points and six assists, also tying Perry and Hurley with four rebounds to lead the team. Hurley scored 13 points, going three for four from three-point range. Five other UMW players scored from five to seven points providing good scoring balance on the night. The Orediggers dropped to 4-8 in conference play and 6-19 overall and are tied for sixth in the conference with the University of Great Falls (UGF). Montana Western improved to 20-7 overall and 8-4 in conference play. Montana Western, Westminster, MSU-Northern and Carroll College are locked in a four-way tie in the Frontier Conference standings at 8-4. The top four places and seeding for the conference tournament will be determined in the final week of play on Feb. 25 and 26. Montana Western hosts Rocky Mountain (Friday) and Carroll (Saturday). Montana State University-Northern hosts Westminster (Friday) and Lewis-Clark (Saturday). Westminster also plays at UGF on Saturday, and Carroll plays at Montana Tech on Friday.