BUTTE — Another day, another gritty, come-from-behind victory for Montana Tech.
A welcome tune-up following a lengthy break and with conference play looming.
Led by a 15-point performance from junior Sammy McGree — including three second-half triples — the Orediggers overcame a five-point first half deficit and unleashed a slew of second-half 3-pointers to top the University of Lethbridge 79-73 on Friday afternoon at the HPER Complex.
The Orediggers overcame spells of cold shooting and turnovers in the first half, responding with eight second-half triples and turning the ball over only four times after halftime.
The win follows Tech's 68-67 last-gasp victory in Helena on Thursday over the University of Calgary in which Kaylynn Coverdell put the Orediggers over the top with a decisive 3-pointer with four seconds remaining. She led Friday's game with seven assists.
"These were two good wins for us because, going into conference play, the league is going to be a nightmare," said Tech coach Carly Sanon. "Every game is going to be close and you never know who is going to win. To battle like we did is a good place to be at."
Tech will carry a 10-4 record into the Frontier fray beginning with a home game against MSU-Northern (8-4) on Thursday. Lethbridge (10-3) takes on Carroll College on Saturday.
The consecutive wins were the Orediggers' first action in over three weeks and their first back-to-back victories since reeling off five-straight wins in early November.
Sanon felt having two opportunities to settle back into a rhythm was critical.
“We hadn’t played since December 2 and we had two practices before yesterday’s game," said Sanon. "It was good, with quality teams coming in, to get the rust off and look at some film and some things that we need to improve."
Five Orediggers crossed the double-digit threshold. Kourtney Coverdell (13 points) and Monica Landdeck (11) each notched a trio of 3-pointers. Shay Potter added 12 points and Hannah Sparks scored 10.
Tech found its balance in the midst of a see-saw battle in which the teams exchanged eight ties and 13 lead changes.
The Orediggers connected on just 11-of-32 field goals in the first half and matched Lethbridge with 11 turnovers.
Tech found more opportunities and consistency in the second half after Lethbridge began zeroing in on Potter in the post after she made a pair of early third-quarter field goals.
"(Lethbridge) got a little nervous," said Sanon. "Shay (Potter) got going in the second half so they started doubling her. That made it so we had more wide open shots and we weren’t rushing things."
McGree connected on two of her 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the third quarter and hit her final one just over a minute into the fourth quarter.
Williams then hit a triple to tie the game for the final time with less than four minutes remaining and Landdeck sunk a 3-pointer in the last three minutes to give Tech the lead for good.
For Sanon, grinding out a pair of wins over non-conference opponents has helped her team find its stride as it heads into the core of the season.
"These teams really helped us," said Sanon. "I was really proud of how we battled. We were down, we got the lead, we got down. We didn't panic."