BUTTE — Through two wins last week, Montana Tech’s women’s basketball team proved its efficiency from beyond the arc.
On Thursday, the Orediggers showed they can be just as potent from close range.
Driven by a double-double performance from sophomore center Shay Potter, Tech effectively attacked the post to power its way to a 71-55 upset over the No. 21 MSU-Northern Skylights at the HPER Complex to give the Orediggers their third-straight win.
Potter finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Tech (11-4) went 3 for 17 from 3-point distance, but found some rhythm in the paint against Northern (9-6). Potter went 10 for 13 and sophomore Kaylee Zard — who came off the bench to score 10 points and grab eight rebounds — sunk all four of her attempts.
In the men's game, MSU-Northern overcame a four-point halftime deficit and broke a tie with just over four minutes left to edge Tech, 71-63. Northern's (12-4) Caulin Bakalarski led both teams with 19 points. Trent Molesworth paced the Orediggers (8-6) with 17 points.
The Tech women's trio of wins have come after a nearly four-week hiatus. If there were any lingering cobwebs, Tech seemed to brush them off.
“We’re a young team and we’re starting to get some players to evolve,” said Tech coach Carly Sanon. “We came back from the break fresh and we’re doing some great things defensively.”
The game was tied 14-14 after one quarter but Tech pulled away for a 30-20 halftime lead and held a 10-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Orediggers couldn’t quite shut down Northern guard Shiloh McCormick but did enough to contain the Frontier Conference’s reigning Player of the Week, holding the sophomore’s damage to 13 points, seven rebounds and an 0-for-3 mark from 3-point range. Senior Brandy Lambourne led the Skylights with 15 points.
While Tech’s Dec. 29 win over Lethbridge was spurred by 10 triples and a victory over Calgary the day before came on a last-second 3-pointer, Sanon challenged both Potter and Zard to make their presence in the post known against Northern.
“I talked to (Potter and Zard) this week and said ‘We need to get points from you and we need to get rebounds from you,’” said Sanon. “They gave us great points. They brought that presence.”
The win was the Orediggers’ first conference victory of the season after dropping contests to Montana Western and Lewis-Clark State in late November and early December. The later defeat came at home on a deep buzzer-beating shot from Western’s Lauren Johnson.
"Coming back and defending our home court was huge for us," said Sanon.
Both Tech teams will take on the University of Providence on Saturday on the road. Both Northern teams travel to Lewis-Clark State on Thursday.