DILLON — The list of similarities between Montana Western’s Brianna King and Dom Robinson runs the gamut from their wiry builds to their mutual love of Steph Curry.
Both are from Washington, with King growing up in Spokane and Robinson hailing from Tacoma.
Both began their collegiate careers at junior colleges and hope that their respective chapters as point guards for the Bulldogs serve as launching pads to greater basketball heights. King aspires to play overseas and Robinson dreams of coaching a college team.
Both are the shortest members of their teams — King is 5-foot-5 while Robinson stands 5-foot-8 and, knowing his height has caused a lot of schools to disregard him, plays with a chip on his shoulder
But of biggest importance to Western’s hopes of repeat appearances at the NAIA National Tournament is that both King and Robinson have developed red-hot hands this season to lead their teams in scoring.
King has racked up 306 points for the women’s team (12-6, 2-4) and Robinson has amassed 328 with the men’s squad (14-3, 4-2).
While they’ve both accumulated impressive stat lines, as well as collected a number of Frontier Conference honors, their formulas for success comes down to trusting their teammates and fundamentals.
“I just take care of the ball, and I like to score sometimes,” King, a junior, said with a laugh. “Take care of the ball and get the offense setup. That’s my game: dribble-drive.”
Said Robinson, a senior: “I’m small so it’s harder for me to get my shot off in the paint. I resort more to the 3-point shot.”
He’s drained 51 of them so far this season.
In spite of their similarities, there is one noticeable difference. King is admittedly reserved while Robinson’s outgoing personality spills over.
Different temperaments. Same results on the court.
The Bulldogs will need all the points they can muster from King and Robinson on Thursday evening when the Carroll College Saints come marching into Dillon for a rematch after sweeping the Bulldogs in Helena on Jan. 4.
The 10th ranked Carroll men have won 10 of their last 12 games. The Saints women, also ranked 10th, will carry a six-game win streak into the game.
The rematch offers the Bulldogs a chance at redemption.
“We’re really excited for that game,” Robinson said. “We have all the confidence going into it. We don’t care who’s in front of us, we’re just going to battle it out.”
The Bulldogs men have reeled off three-straight wins after opening conference play with a 77-63 loss to Carroll.
At the center of the Western's radar is Carroll’s seemingly unstoppable guard Ryan Imhoff, the Saints’ leading scorer.
“(Imhoff) is probably the best player in the conference,” said Robinson. “We’ve just got to try to contain him and try to keep him off the line.”
Helping bolster Western's attack against Carroll is Brandon Jones, Kooper Kidgell and Zaccheus Darko-Kelly who are all averaging over 10 points a game.
For Western’s women’s team, the Jan. 4 loss to Carroll marked the start of a three-game slide.
“We couldn’t get anything going offensively,” King said.
The sting from that defeat carried over into losses against Rocky Mountain College and Providence. They got back on track with a 78-58 win over MSU-Northern on Saturday.
Another collision with Carroll is looming for both King and Robinson, but it was opportunities during, and after, their junior college years that put them here.
Jill Jacobs, a senior who played against King while Jacobs was with Wenatchee Valley College and King was playing for Spokane Falls Community College, put King in touch with Western assistant coach Tony Nakashima.
After a favorable campus visit, King was signed on.
Robinson’s road to being a Bulldogs was a little more winding.
After playing two years of junior college ball with Northeastern Junior college in Colorado — and averaging just over two points per game — he still had no offers to transfer to a four-year university.
Disappointed, he decided to take a year off.
“I didn’t know if I still wanted to play,” he said.
He moved to Portland with his uncle for the year but, not giving up on basketball, he still “stayed in the gym a bit” while working two jobs.
Then in the spring of 2016, Robinson received a call from hometown friend and former Western basketball standout Brandon Brown, asking him if he still wanted to play.
Robinson’s answer was a swift “yes.”
His tryout would be in Western’s Alumni game in front of head basketball coach Steve Keller.
Robinson bought a plane ticket, got to Dillon, and aced his test. He was offered a scholarship immediately after the game.
"It was pretty cool how I got here, honestly," Robinson said.
Now putting up solid numbers for Western, both Robinson and King have similarly determined mindsets as they look towards Thursday's game against Carroll and the remainder of the season.
“We’re ready for that game," King said. "We’ve got a lot to prove.”
"This is my senior year, it's time for me to step up," Robinson added.