BUTTE – If there was any drama to the Montana Tech women’s basketball game against Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, Friday night, it was whether or not the Orediggers would surpass the 102 points they put up in their season-opening win over Yellowstone Christian nearly two weeks earlier.
They certainly came close.
Molly Peoples nailed a 3-point basket with 3.6 seconds left in the game giving the Orediggers their 99th, 100th and 101st points as Tech settled for a 101-63 win over NHSC on Friday, the opening night of the inaugural Montana Tech Tip-Off Classic at the HPER Complex.
Things weren’t much different when the Tech men’s team took to the court, turning a 23-point halftime lead to a 109-64 triumph later that night against the men’s team from Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish.
The Tech men’s team began the second half on with a 20-7 run, effectively ending any hopes of a Storm comeback.
The Lady Orediggers benefited from having five players scoring in double-figures. Monica Landdeck, Sammy McGree, Kourtney Coverdell and Mesa Williams each scored 14. Hannah Sparks added 11 and five assists as the Orediggers improved to 2-0 (with one exhibition loss).
Tech head coach Carly Sanon was pleased with the effort put forth by her players and, like any good coach, found room for improvement.
“They were big, we’re small,” Sanon said. “They really tried to spread us out. There were times when we were not quite where we wanted to be.”
The Orediggers didn’t waste any time in using their speed and passing skills to take the lead. They jumped out to an 8-0 lead on baskets that were scored by four different players.
Tayla Belgarde had the hot hand for the Storm in the early going by scoring her team’s first six points.
The Storm did a good job of getting the ball into the paint, which is where most of its success came from.
Tech, like it did in its first win of the season, was able to use all of its players which also showcased the talent of some of its younger players.
Williams, a true freshman out of White Sulphur Springs was 5 for 10 in field goals, which included a 2-for-3 mark from 3-point range.
McGree, though a junior, is back spending most of last season nursing an injury. A 2016 Frontier Conference Freshman of the Year – and former hockey player – doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. She was all over the court, taking shots from inside and out, as well as sacrificing her body when control of a loose ball was at stake.
Her return to the court has given the Orediggers a boost of energy which will come in handy as the season progresses. The Butte High graduate currently leads the team in scoring but she stressed the need for better defense following Friday’s win.
“We have to improve on defense,” she said, referring to Sanon’s “hoop-sync” approach.
The Orediggers will have a chance to work on that when they return to the court Saturday at 5 p.m. to play against Dickinson State.
Jake Miles led Montana Tech’s charge out of the break by scoring eight of the Orediggers’ points during that 20-7 spurt. He finished with 17 points.
Dylan Pannabecker (13 points, 7 rebounds), a product of Choteau, set the tone with three straight field goals during the early part of the run.
John Chapman led the ‘Diggers with 21 points, while Chris O’Neill registered 13 points.
The Storm got 18 points from Gabe Archambault and 10 from Jarren Estes and Covey Hale.
The other games in the Classic featured wins by the Montana Western men’s and women’s teams.
Brianne King scored 22 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs past Dickinson State, 78-47.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-1 on the young season by jumping on the Blue Hawks early.
Western held a 28-9 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
Jennifer Burnham led Dickinson State with 12 points.
Dom Robinson scored 39 points and Brandon Jones added 28 as the 16th-ranked Montana Western men’s team held off Dickinson State, 106-99, in overtime.
The Bulldogs’ defense rose to the challenge in the extra period as Western outscored Dickinson State by a 12-5 margin.
Jones put Western ahead for good as his layup with 1:49 left in the contest gave Western a 101-99 lead.
The Blue Hawks got a team-high 33 points from Brian Neal.
Western will play against Nueta Hidasta Sahnish in a women’s game at 9 a.m., followed by the men’s game featuring the same schools.
Montana Tech will clash with Dickinson State, with the women’s game slated for 5 p.m., and the men going at 7 p.m.
The two-day event will include Montana Tech’s final conference volleyball match of the season. The Orediggers, will take on MSU-Northern at 2 p.m. A victory will give the Orediggers their first Frontier Conference title since 1990.