By Bill Foley
Sometimes it just comes down to making shots.
That was certainly the cast Thursday night at the HPER Complex.
Montana Tech saw too many shots bounce off the rim, and the Orediggers fell 56-41 to No. 2 Carroll College in a Frontier Conference men’s basketball game. (Stats)
The Orediggers hit just 3 of 20 shots from 3-point territory in a game that saw the Saints slowly pull away in the second half.
“It’s difficult to win conference games if we’re not making shots, especially on our home floor,” Tech coach Adam Hiatt said. “We’ve been in a little bit of a shooting rut. That’s been a big cause of our struggles.”
Hiatt pointed out that the Orediggers are a combined 6 for 36 from behind the 3-point arc over the last two home games. The Saints, Hiatt said, had something to do with Thursday’s woes.
“They need to be credited as well,” Hiatt said. “They’re a terrific defensive team. They have great length, and they’re able to fly around.”
The cool shooting night put a damper on a night that saw the Orediggers themselves play some stellar defense.
“I feel really bad for our guys,” Hiatt said. “That was a wonderful defensive performance. They played as hard as they played all year. They had great detail with what we were trying to accomplish.”
Despite the many clanks off the iron, the Orediggers were within striking distance of the Saints for most of the game.
Carroll took a 25-20 lead into halftime after Ryan Imhoff beat the buzzer with a jumper just before the break.
The Saints crept the lead up, and it reached double digits on free throws by Ife Kalejaiye and Lorel Johnson after Oredigger Iman Chatman was called for a technical foul with 5 minutes, 58 seconds left.
The free tosses extended the lead to 47-37, and the Orediggers never got back to within single digits.
Dane Wark led the Saints with 13 points as Carroll stopped a two-game skid and improved to 4-2 in and 16-2 overall.
Imhoff scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Carroll, which used eight players and saw all of them score points.
Kalejaiye scored nine, while Matt Wyman scored six, and Johnson and Match Burnham each tossed in five.
Trent Molesworth scored 14 points to lead the Orediggers for the second straight game. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
Chris O’Neill added 11 points for the Orediggers, who fell to 0-4 and 8-8.
Tech got six points from Jake Miles, four from Taylor England and two apiece from Dylan Pannabecker, Chatman and John Chapman.
Kale Guldseth, Carson Dummer and Derrius Collins also contributed for the Orediggers, who head to Billings to take on Rocky Mountain College on Saturday.
Hiatt said it’s just a matter of time before the Orediggers regain their shooting touch.
“We’ve just been in a little bit of a rut,” the coach said. “I have confidence in our team and confidence in our players that we’re going to be able to get out of this rut, and we’re going to be able to start getting some wins.”