BUTTE — For the second night in a row, the Montana Tech men’s basketball team played a game, this time against Rocky Mountain College, that came down to one final possession.
For the second night in a row, Montana Tech had a player, this time Dylan Pannabecker, who scored far above his season average.
For the second night in a row, Montana Tech had a chance to win a Frontier Conference game, but this time, it fell just short.
Final score: Battlin’ Bears 68, Orediggers 65. The Tech women’s team fell in the first game of the doubleheader, 68-52.
“We weren’t sharp,” Digger head men’s coach Adam Hiatt said. “They capitalized on our mistakes. We gave ourselves a chance to win and in this league it just comes down to what players are going to make plays.”
With under 15 seconds left in the game, down by three points, and with the ball, Tech certainly had a chance to put the game into overtime. Chris O’Neill quickly drove the ball down and the court for the Orediggers, cut inside and then whipped it to John Chapman, who was waiting outside the arc.
Chapman, who had hit just 2-of-7 three-point shots in the game, rose up to take a shot before deciding, at the very last second, to throw the ball inside. Carson Dummer received the pass, missed a contested layup, and Rocky Mountain was able to run out the clock.
“It was a heads up play there were still 10 or so seconds left in the game,” Hiatt said. “But that’s not the difference in the game. We lost the game because of missing free throws and turnovers in the second half. Most of them were loose and unforced turnovers.”
Those mistakes allowed Rocky to control most of the second half and hamper a second Montana Tech comeback win in as many nights.
After the upset victory over No. 10 Carroll the night before, Hiatt wasn’t sure how his team would react, calling it “uncharted territory.” But even with the loss to the Battlin’ Bears, who are receiving votes in the NAIA poll, the biggest battle is one with consistency.
“We’re just right there,” Hiatt said. “What’s been difficult for us all year long is to have a level of consistency from one game to the next and I’m talking about at an individual level. We’ll have individuals that will play well one night and the next night they’re well below what they did the other night.
“I guess that’s why they call it averages.”
The Montana Tech women’s team shot well below their average in the loss to the eighteenth-ranked Battlin’ Bears.
The Orediggers went 2-for-15 from the field in the first quarter and that turned into six total made shots in the first half. By the time the Orediggers got midway through the third quarter, they were trailing by 29 points. Things were a little better towards the end, but it was still a disappointing 68-52 loss for Tech head coach Carly Sanon.
“You’re not going to win very many games when you’re not shooting the ball well,” Sanon said. “We didn’t come out with the same fire and energy we did last weekend, so there’s some things we have to get fixed.”
It was the second game in a row Tech has fallen, with the other coming against No. 10 Carroll on Jan. 25. Playing two ranked teams during a back-to-back is no easy task and the Diggers did look a little lethargic, or at least a little sloppy, during the opening minutes.
It didn’t help them, however, that Rocky was able to get separation almost immediately. The Battlin’ Bears hit four three-pointers in the first quarter and six before the half was finished.
RMC’s Hailee Farstveet had three of those first-half three’s and finished with five total as well as a game-high 20 points.
“I’m proud of her, she’s had a rough go this year and hasn’t played up to her capability,” RMC women’s head coach Wes Keller said of Farstveet. “It was nice to see her have a night like tonight, where she’s knocking shots down and taking care of the ball.”