Montana Tech men’s basketball coach Patrick O’Herron had no issue when the student section dwindled away Friday night at the HPER Complex.
A group that was in full force early was all but gone by the end of the Orediggers 66-54 Frontier Conference loss to the University of Great Falls. Stats
“We didn’t play good enough to keep anybody’s interest to stay, to be truthful,” O’Herron said. “We didn’t knock shots down. We didn’t defend. It was an ugly slow game, which is what they (the Argonauts) want. When we did get an opportunity to break, we didn’t make it. We turned it over and didn’t finish at the rim. Do you blame them?”
O’Herron said his team, which played a rare non-conference game in the middle of the Frontier slate Monday at South Dakota Tech, was sluggish since it got off the bus on the return trip from the Badlands.
“There’s nothing we can do about today,” O’Herron said less than 24 hours before the Orediggers play host to Carroll College. “We’ve just got to come back tomorrow ready to play against Carroll. I hope we have more energy because we had no energy today. We haven’t had energy all week since we came back. Our worst practices of the year have been our last three.”
The Orediggers looked to make things interesting early in the second half.
Tech scored the first seven points of the half, and Antonio Snow got a membership bounce on a 3-pointer to put the Orediggers up 34-33.
Tech led again at 36-35 when Adam Greger made a nice move and hit a kiss off the glass with 17 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game.
The good news ended for the home crowd, though. T.J. Harris hit a floating, one-handed shot in the key to spark a 12-0 run that gave the Argos the lead for good.
Marcel Towns drove for a hoop, and the Argos led 47-35 with 13:46 on the clock.
Tech answered when Brandon Rydberg sank an extra-long 3-pointer and Keegan McCarthy hit a baseline jumper.
The Orediggers pulled within three at 51-48 when McCarthy hit two more shots from the baseline.
Great Falls, though, went on another run to close out the game as the Argos zone defense held the Orediggers to a 39 percent shooting percentage on the game.
“They just sit in that zone,” O’Herron said. “If you’re tentative or you don’t throow shots down, that zone will suffocate you.”
That zone forced the Orediggers to shoot 28 times from behind the 3-point line. Many of them were from way behind, and Tech hit on just three long balls.
“If we’re taking 28 threes and nine free throws, we’re never going to win,” O’Herron said.
Towns, the Frontier Conference’s top scorer, scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds — both game highs.
“The only thing you can do is make him work for shots,” O’Herron said of the Great Falls star. “We did some really good stuff with him and he still made them. That’s what you’ve got to live with. It’s the other guys you’ve got to try to contain, and we didn’t do a good job.”
Maleek Singleton scored 12 points, while Reid Tramelli tossed in 10.
Greger scored 17 points for the Orediggers. Bryan Bock knocked down 12 points.
“When we have two guys in double figures, it’s not a good sign for us,” O’Herron said. “And we got out rebounded for the first time in a while.”
Tech also got nine points from Rydberg, seven from Snow, six from McCarthy and three from Travis Peevey.
Marcus Payne, who has been Tech’s emerging force as of late was held to zero points and two rebounds.
Roman Pruneda-Garza, Reid Baerlocher, Paul Giacomelli, Trent Thomas and Paul Engstrom also played for the Orediggers, who fell to 4-5 in conference and 12-9 overall.
Great Falls improved to 6-4 and 15-8.
The Orediggers and Saints tip off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The women play at 5:30.