If there’s one constant in Frontier Conference basketball this year, it’s that timeless sports cliché: Any team can win on any given night.
Montana Tech (14-13, 4-11) outdueled No. 15 Montana Western (20-7, 10-5) Wednesday night, 70-65. The Orediggers entered the game riding a six-game losing streak; the Bulldogs on a nine-game high.
“They’re always tenacious,” Western coach Lindsay Woolley said. “You know what (Tech coach Carly Sanon’s) team is going to bring every night. We had some break downs but every game you’re going to have breakdowns. Their kids did a great job, played with a ton of confidence.”
Both teams flirted with the win in the fourth quarter. Western began the frame with an 8-0 run, followed by a 7-0 Tech run.
Trading the lead throughout the quarter, guard Hannah Sparks put the Orediggers up 68-65 with a pull up jumper with one minute, 15 seconds to play.
Brianna King, who scored a game-high 28, missed a layup with just over 10 seconds to play, forcing Western into fouls. Kaylynn and Kourtney Coverdell both hit free throws for the Orediggers to seal the game.
“They’ve got good depth and they’ve got good guards. They’re making shots and getting into the paint at will. That’s what they’re going to do to you.”
Sanon has been adjusting her starting lineup throughout the year, and if Wednesday’s win is to be believed, she’s crafted a bench capable of stealing wins from the top of the Frontier.
Kourtney Coverdell led Tech with 15 points off the bench, Sammy McGree scored 12 and Hannah Sparks added eight points along with drawing the defensive assignment on King for most of the game.
“I like having those three scorers being able to come off the bench,” Sanon said. “With our two bigs (Shay Potter and Kaylee Zard) starting it gives us a little different look than people have seen and I think that’s been good for us.”
Potter had eight points and 11 boards.
“I think everybody contributes which is nice,” Coverdell said. “It’s nice to be able to see the game then come in (from the bench).”
Despite the recent string of disappointing finishes, Tech’s win comes on the heels of an overtime loss to Rocky Mountain College on Saturday.
Sanon says she hopes that performance, coupled with Wednesday’s win, means Tech is hitting its stride.
“The Frontier is absolutely brutal. It’s a battle, for us to go up to Rocky and have a chance to win, and come here and win, it’s huge for us,” she said. “Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
Western wins at the line
Montana Western head coach Steve Keller says his team needs to win games at the free-throw line.
The Bulldogs did just that Wednesday night, beating Montana Tech 71-67, going 25 of 37 from the line.
"We were 20 of 25 in the second half, that was the difference," Keller said.
The Bulldogs took a 66-63 lead on a Kooper Kidgell 3 with just under two minutes to play.
The Orediggers got to within two with 10 seconds to play, but a Chris O'Neill runner missed. Tech Zaccheus Darko-Kelly hit two free throws to put the game away.
Darko-Kelly notched a double-double with a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Nick Fitts largely kept Tech in the game with his shooting, scoring 21 points, including 5 of 7 shooting from three.
"They execute and they guard and they’re physical," Keller said. "His team is always well prepared, we just made more plays than they did."