Knights hand Orediggers first loss of season

Knights hand Orediggers first loss of season
Montana Tech's Taylor England takes the ball to the hoop between Warner Pacific defenders Khiry Williams, left, and Terrance Wienecke Thursday night at the HPER Complex. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

Adam Hiatt did not hold back Thursday night.

Montana Tech’s third-year head men’s basketball coach was not happy with his team’s performance in a 75-65 loss to Warner Pacific (Oregon) at the HPER Complex. (Stats)

“It was the worst basketball game that I think I’ve ever seen from one of my teams,” Hiatt said.

The game was part of the PayneWest Tip Off Classic.

For the Orediggers, it was a game they’d just as soon forget. Tech committed 15 turnovers in the first half to fall behind 35-27 at the Break. Warner held off the several Oredigger comeback attempts in the second half.

Hiatt said the Orediggers were focused on limiting turnovers and shooting better from the free throw line following Saturday’s exhibition loss at Oregon State.

“That’s been a point of emphasis all week,” Hiatt said. “Then we come in here, and 15 turnovers in the first half. Just nonsense plays. Then we end up shooting below 50 percent from the foul line.

“It’s two things that are pretty controllable on our end,” the coach said. “We’re not controlling it right now, and that’s the result you see.”

Tech hit on just 6 of 13 attempts from the stripe.

Collin Malcom, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, hit on 8 of 11 shots from the field — including a 3-for-4 effort from behind the 3-point line — on his way to a game-high 20 points to lead four Knights in double figures scoring.

Brandon Rowden and Morris Bethea each scored 12 points, while Gabe Garrett came off the bench to score 11.

Warner Pacific (3-0) is ranked No. 23 in the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll.

“They shot the ball very well,” Hiatt said of the Knights. “Whenever they got an open shot, they capitalized. When we had open shots, we did not capitalize.”

Taylor England’s 15 points and nine rebounds led the Orediggers (2-1). Troy Owens Jr. added 14 points.

Eight different Orediggers scored points, with Drew Huse coming off the bench to score nine. Derrius Collins tossed in eight, and Nate Ward and Nick Fitts each scored seven, Gavin McPherson tossed in three, and Carson Dumer netted two.

Dylan Pannabecker, Blake Dittman and William Mytty also contributed for the Orediggers.

“It didn’t think that we had a lot of life tonight,” Hiatt said. “Is seemed like our heads were in the clouds. We’re making plays that I have never seen us try to make before.”

Hiatt is looking for improvement when his Orediggers take on Dickinson State at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“We weren’t very pleased with how we played. We’re hoping tomorrow we have a better performance,” the coach said. “We’re hoping that we can perform a little bit better tomorrow night and we can have a little more energy in our step because we didn’t have a lot of energy tonight.”

Warner Pacific will play Carroll College at 3 p.m. at the HPER Complex.

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