BILLINGS — Alecia Chamberlin didn’t get a chance to celebrate with her teammates in the locker room.
She was in the training room, getting her neck and shoulder worked on after a hard landing while diving for a loose ball late in the game.
“I hit my left elbow and jarred my neck pretty good. Or is it pretty bad?” said Chamberlin, trying to find some humor in the painful situation. “It hurts.”
That hustle play led to two Brooke Jones’ free throws and others like that helped Rocky Mountain College rally past Montana Tech 62-55 Wednesday at the Fortin Center in the first round of the Frontier Conference Tournament.
“I was thinking we would use one more possession,” Chamberlin said of the play that left her clutching her neck and shoulder when the buzzer sounded. “Coach (Wes Keller) always says play hard enough that you ask for a sub. I think we did that.”
It was Rocky’s first home playoff game since 2012. The Battlin’ Bears won all four meetings with Montana Tech, which finished 14-17.
Rocky, ranked 18th nationally (22-7), will play at Montana Western (24-7) on Saturday in the semifinals. The other semifinal has Lewis-Clark State (18-12) at top-seeded Carroll College (22-7). The Warriors advanced with a 74-69 win over Providence.
Jones finished with a game-high 19 points for the Battlin’ Bears, her most since a 20-point game against Lewis-Clark State on Jan. 4. Chamberlin and Mikayla Jones each added 13. Chamberlin, a 64 percent free throw shooter entering the game, finished 8 of 8 against Montana Tech.
“Alecia stepped up and made her free throws,” said Keller. “Alecia plays hard every single game, every single practice … she gives everything she has every time. She does the things that don’t sometimes show up in the stats.
“And she’s called upon to guard the other team’s best player.”
Rocky trailed by as many as 12 late in the first quarter as the Orediggers shot a sizzling 77 percent (10 of 13) from the field.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” said Montana Tech coach Carly Sanon. “We made some steals, got some stops and were hitting our shots. Then we went cold.”
The Oreddigers were just 1 of 15 from the field in the second quarter (6.7 percent) for four points, and 4 of 13 in the third quarter, scoring just eight points.
“We communicated a lot better,” said Chamberlin of her team’s defense. “We moved well, called out the screens. The Frontier Conference is good. Teams go on runs. We’ve learned to handle that this season.”
Rocky converted 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. Chamberlin, Markaela Francis and Justyn Juhl each had four. Juhl provided the spark in the second quarter.
“Justyn came in and got us some big offensive rebounds,” Keller said. “She kept some plays alive for us.”
Chamberlin’s smooth 3-pointer gave Rocky its first lead of the game, 30-29, and the Battlin’ Bears took the lead for good on two free throws and a basket by Brooke Jones.
Kourtney Coverdell led Montana Tech with 12 points, while Mesa Williams had 11.
“I hope this gives us some confidence for the rest of the postseason,” said Keller.