Dawgs take down Orediggers

Something just seemed to be missing.

Montana Tech struggled offensively Tuesday night, and Montana Western left the HPER Complex with a 55-46 victory in the first round of the Frontier Conference women’s basketball playoffs.

Montana Western (16-15) is the No. 6 seed in the playoffs. Tech (16-13) was No. 3.

“Our offense was just disjointed,” Montana Tech coach Kerrie DePell said. “We weren’t making the correct pass at the right time. We threw the ball out of bounds under no pressure. It just was a weird night on offense.”

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, had a lot going their way.

Sammi Bignell scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, and Montana Western led nearly the entire game.

Mandy Machinal sank a 3 pointer with 17 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half to give the Orediggers their only lead of the game.

Then Bignell went off, scoring eight straight Western points as the Bulldogs took the lead for good with a 10-2 run.

Western led 28-20 at halftime.

“They played well,” DePell said of the Bulldogs, who earned a trip to take on top-seeded Westminster College Friday in Salt Lake City. “They’re definitely peaking right now. They’ve got a lot of offensive weapons, and everybody chipped in here and there.

“It was the fourth time playing them, so we kind of know each other,” DePell said. “It came down to execution, and we just didn’t hit the shots.”

When the Oredigger did get a shot to fall, the Bulldogs continually had an answer.

When Dannii Devenny drove for a basket to cut the lead to 40-34, the Bulldogs scored when Alecia Wilson, the reigning Frontier Conference Player of the Week, fed Bignell with a beautiful dump-off pass on a fast break.

The Orediggers pulled to within 42-37 when Machinal took a nice pass from Brooke Pokorny and turned a 3-point play. Western fired back with a Roxanne Thurman jumper.

The closest the Orediggers got was 47-44 after Lisa Lazlovich and Machinal hit jumpers and Devenny sank a 3-pointer in a 7-2 run. Devenny’s three came with 2:56 left.

The Bulldogs scored the next six points.

Jenna Banks drove the middle for a bucket and Brittney Leibenguth sank a jumper before Banks buried two free throws.

Despite the loss, DePell said she was happy with her team.

“Our defense was great,” she said. “The effort was there, and I was proud of them for that.”

Bignell was one of three Bulldogs in double figures. Leibenguth, a former Oredigger, scored 13, while Thurman netted 10. Wilson scored six points, Banks tossed in five and Kaci Matthies pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

Machinal scored 14 points, while Laslovich, who left the game with an injury late, scored 11. DePell said Laslovich had a cramp in her leg.

Kelsey DeWit, who missed the last three weeks of the regular season came off the bench to score 10 points.

“I don’t think she was 100 percent,” DePell said of DeWit, her junior center. “I think the second half she got a little fatigued, but I think she helped us.”

Devenny scored seven points, while Shay and Pokorny each scored two. Brynne Kambich, Laini Kalumbi and Erika Jenkins also played for the Orediggers, whose third-place finish was better than the league’s coaches predicted in the preseason.

“To get third in the Frontier I think is a good accomplishment,” DePell said. ” I don’t think anybody expected us to do this well. I’m definitely proud of them. They overachieved. ”

Tech-Western playoff stats

Montana Western’s Jenna Banks defends Montana Tech’s Booke Pokorny in the first half Tuesday night.

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