Battlin’ Bears start fast, burn Oredigger women

Battlin’ Bears start fast, burn Oredigger women
Montana Tech freshman Mollie Peoples drives to the basket as Rocky Mountain College’s Justyn Juhl (42) and Hailee Farstveet defend Friday night at the HPER Complex. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

At No. 18 in the nation, Rocky Mountain College’s women’s basketball team is enjoying it highest ranking in school history.

Friday night, fans at the Montana Tech HPER Complex got to see firsthand why the Battlin’ Bears are so highly touted.

Rocky jumped out to a fast start, outscoring the Orediggers 27-6 in the first quarter, on its way to a 68-52 Frontier Conference victory over Montana Tech. (Stats)

“We played extremely hard in the first quarter,” Rocky coach Wes Keller said. “We want to play inside-out, and we established that in the first quarter. We got some buckets inside, then we got some shots from deep.”

Senior guard Hailee Farstveet did the damage from down town. She hit 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range.

“Hailee Farstveet by far had her best game of the year,” Keller said. “She stepped up and shot the ball.”

Farstveet also grabbed eight rebound. Markaela Francis, a 6-foot junior, added 13 points and six boards, while Justyn Juhl came off the bench to score 11.

Montana Tech, meanwhile, was cold as could be. The Orediggers hit just 6 of 27 shots in the first half.

“You’re not going to win many games when you’re not shooting the ball well,” Tech coach Carly Sanon said.

Sanon wouldn’t blame the Orediggers early struggles on playing back-to-back games. Tech fell to Carroll College at home on Thursday.

“We didn’t come out with the same fire and energy that we had last weekend, so there’s some things we’ve got to get fixed internally so that we’re having a good week of practice coming into games,” said Sanon, whose team won big last week at the University of Providence and MSU-Northern. “It was just a lack of energy. We kind of lost the leadership that we had the week before, but I think we’ll bounce back and be ready to go.”

Sammy McGree came off the bench to score nine points to lead the Orediggers, who outscored Rocky 26-25 after trailing 39-18 at halftime.

“We played a lot better in the second half, but you can’t get down 20 or 30 point and try to get it back in 20 minutes,” Sanon said. “The game’s just not long enough for that.

“We ended on a good note, but there’s a lot of things we’ve got to get fixed.”

Rocky held Tech’s sophomore post Shay Potter, Tech’s leading scorer on the season, to just three points. Potter grabbed seven rebounds.

Kaylynn Coverdell scored seven points for Tech, while Mesa Williams scored six. Also, Mollie Peoples, Hailey Crawford and Zaylee Zard each scored five, while Hannah Sparks, Monica Landdeck and Kourtney Coverdell scored four apiece.

Adriane Horn and Tjaden Williams also contributed for the Orediggers.

The Orediggers (3-7, 13-9) will be back at home next week to take on Montana Western and Lewis-Clark State College.

“It’s a long season. There’s still a lot of time left, and the things that we need to get fixed are actually some pretty easy things that we just talked about in the locker room,” she said. “We’ve got two more games at home next week, and it’s time we get back to defending our home court.”

Rocky (6-3, 16-3) will head to Helena to take on Carroll College on Saturday.

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