Montana Tech’s defense probably made Rocky Mountain shooters feel like they were playing outside the Montana Tech HPER Complex Thursday night.
Inside, the homestanding and NAIA 12th-ranked Oredigger men walloped Rocky Mountain 82-59 to STATS open the Frontier Conference portion of their college men’s basketball season.
Montana Tech held the Bears to 28 percent in field goal shooting in the first half, 9 percent from 3-point range, while building a 37-18 command. The Orediggers led wire to wire.
Michael Ure scored the first six points of the contest and his Montana Tech teammates were never caught. Ure was fouled on his first 3-point shot attempt, so went to the free throw line and swished three straight foul shots to compensate. The Bears didn’t get a chance to bump him on the next try from the hot dog stand, and it was suddenly a 6-0 game
The Orediggers completed an 8-0 run to start the game when Hayden Diekhans sank two charity tosses.
Rocky Mountain got on the scoreboard when Nick Hart glummed onto a rebound and poured it through the hole.
Ure and Diekhans wound up being two of the four Montana Tech scorers to reach double figures. Caleb Bellach led the team with 18 points, all but six coming after halftime. Ure had 14 and Diekhans and Asa Williams tallied 13 a piece.
The Orediggers owned a 13-5 spread after Williams hit for a basket and Bridger Larson netted a freebie. The Bears rallied briefly with Hart completing a three-point play and Kace Kitchel scoring from inside.
Montana Tech responded with a 12-0 surge. Larson’s follow shot ignited it, and Williams fueled it with a layup drive. Ure then scored off an assist from Williams. Chrishon Dixon drove for a hoop and then stole the ball on the other end and passed to Diekhans for an easy basket. Williams knocked down an 18-foot jumper and the Orediggers had inflated their cushion to 25-10.
Bellach didn’t get into the points column until the last couple minutes of the half. He funneled two free throws through the hoop, then added a jumper and a layup drive before intermission.
The teams played evenly the first few minutes of the second half before a 9-0 Montana Tech run opened a 53-25 gap. Dixon scored four of the points while Williams and Larson each notched a basket and Diekhans caged a foul shot.
Rocky Mountain was unable to slice the deficit to less than 20 points, even with a late nine-point run built largely on five consecutive charity tosses made by Jesse Owens. Owens made good on a two-shot technical foul called against the Orediggers, then followed with three freebies awarded for being fouled on the long shot.
He preceded the display from the line with a 3-pointer, giving him seven straight points. He finished with a team-high 13.
Larson had nine points and seven rebounds off the bench. Diekhans, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Geraldine, led in rebounds with nine. Bellach had seven boards. The offense was helped by Dixon with eight points and four assists, Camdyn LaRance with five points and Emani Scott with two.
The Orediggers came up with 13 steals to the Bears’ three. Bellach had four swipes to lead the effort.
Levi Torgerson, Bridger Deden, Keeley Bake, John Dhoul and Sam Gray also played. The Orediggers will take a 1-0 conference record and 9-1 overall mark to Dillon on Saturday to play Montana Western in a 4 p.m. conference tilt.
Kael Robinson was Rocky Mountain’s only other scorer in double figures. He scored 10 points. Hart and Kitchel pulled down seven rebounds each to lead the team. Owens dealt four assists.
The Bears wound up shooting 33 percent for the game while the Orediggers made good on 41 percent of their floor shots.
Rocky Mountain has a 5-3 record, including the 0-1 league ledger, and will head to Great Falls to play Providence of Great Falls on Saturday.
— compiled by Bruce Sayler for buttesports.com