Huse trey lifts Diggers to Frontier tourney title

HELENA — For the first time since 1999, Montana Tech is your Frontier Conference men’s basketball tournament champion.

That is thanks to Drew Huse, who buried a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to give the No. 14 Orediggers a 62-61 win over No. 8 Carroll College in the championship game Monday night in front of a standing-room crowd at the P.E. Center. (Stats)

Huse took a pass from Sindou Diallo. He pump faked and took a dribble to elude a leaping Carroll Defender, then he buried a 3-pointer.

After a pair of timeouts, the Carroll inbounded the ball on a long pass to Jovan Sljivancanin, who was called for traveling. With .4 seconds on the clock, Tech’s Cody Baumstarck jumped to tip a pass in the air and the Oredigger celebration began as Oredigger fans stormed the court.

The game was close throughout, but Tech’s only lead of the second half came when Huse, the senior from Bozeman, found the bottom of the net.

The victory is the first for the Orediggers over Carroll in Helena since 2014. The teams split their four games this season. Three of those contests were played in Helena.

Tech (26-6) and Carroll (28-4) will both head to the NAIA National tournament. Carroll will host a four-team regional, while the Orediggers will be on the road. That was determined before the championship game was played.

Diallo scored 18 points to lead the Orediggers, who trailed 32-29 at the half. Caleb Bellach added 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Huse finished with eight points for Tech, which won for the 13th time in 14 games. Camdyn LaRance and Taylro England added seven points. England pulled down seven big rebounds and dished a pair of assists, and LaRance grabbed five rebounds.

Michael Ure scored four points, and lockdown defender Derrius Collins scored three. Christian Jones, Keeley Bake and Baumstarck also contributed in the win. Baumstarck grabbed six boards.

Shamrock Campbell scored 17 points to lead the Saints. Sljivancanin scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Andrew Cook tossed in 10 points.

The Orediggers won the Frontier regular-season title in 1993. They shared the crown with Carroll, which took the No. 1 tournament seed on a tiebreaker.

Tech’s last Frontier Conference tournament title came in 1999, when Scott Finley sank a 23-foot shot at the buzzer to beat Montana Western in Dillon.

Now, Huse’s name will take its place next to Finley in Oredigger lore, and the 2021-22 team will be remembered forever as kings of the Frontier.