High-powered Warriors top Orediggers

Montana Tech’s men’s basketball team no longer controls its own destiny.

That is the toughest part about the Orediggers two home losses this weekend.

The latest blow was Saturday’s 93-75 loss to No. 5 Lewis-Clark State at the HPER Complex. Jacob Champoux scored 24 points to lead three Lewis-Clark State players in double figures as the No. 5 Warriors topped 90 points for the ninth time this season.

Coupled with a win by Rocky Mountain College over Dickinson State, the Orediggers (5-7 in the Frontier and 14-12 overall) are now sitting in seventh place in the Frontier Conference standings with four games left to play. Only the top six teams make the playoffs.

“We knew exactly what we needed to do, and we slipped up this weekend,” said Tech coach Aaron Woliczko, whose team fell to MSU-Northern Friday night.

Saturday night, the Orediggers were off to a promising start, leading 18-13 midway through the first half.

The Warriors (8-3, 23-3), though, seemingly flipped a switch and took the lead for good with a 31-15 run that put L-C State up 44-33 at halftime. The Warriors took command with a 14-5 run to open the second half.

Woliczko pointed to foul trouble by Daniel Simon as the key to the momentum switch. The coach was forced to take out his 6-foot-6 senior after he picked up his second foul in the first half.

“You saw what he brought tonight. He was the positive of all of this. He had a great game,” Woliczko said. ” We had the momentum and we were doing a good job. When Danny got the foul it was like a punch in the gut. It took a lot of energy out of us.”

Simon, who eventually fouled out, scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds despite playing less than 16 minutes.

Adam Greger and Bryan Bock scored 17 points to pace the Orediggers. Travis Peevey scored nine, while Quinn Smith tossed in seven. Also, Reid Baerlocher, Nathan Smith and Paul Engstrom each scored two, and Roman Pruneda-Garza and Danny Herbert tossed in one.

P.J. Bolte added 21 points for the Warriors. Nick Fromm tossed in 15.

“They’re a really good team,” Woliczko said. “They’re one of the top field goal teams in the country. It makes it easy to be one of the top field goal teams in the country when you’re making layups.  We let them make layups.”

The Tech coach blamed himself for the loss.

“I’ve never been so embarrassed about my preparation for a team because they were getting layups,” Woliczko said. “We couldn’t get back on defense, and that was the frustrating thing. We haven’t seen it all year, and obviously I must have done something wrong to let them do that.”

The Orediggers face Rocky Thursday at home. Then Tech plays Dickinson State at home on Friday. The following week, Tech closes the regular season with games at Montana Western and Westminster College.

Rocky beat Tech when the teams met last month in Billings. Rocky, which is a game ahead of the Orediggers, also beat Lewis-Clark State, giving the Battlin’ Bears a tie-breaker edge.

Woliczko said his team isn’t worried about that.

“There’s a lot of basketball to play,” he said. “We’ve got to take our business.”

 

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