By Bill Foley
Montana Tech men’s basketball coach Adam Hiatt pointed to one number following Saturday’s loss to MSU-Northern at the HPER Complex.
“You can’t score 58 points on your home floor and expect to beat somebody in conference play,” the coach said.
The cold-shooting Orediggers came up short as the Lights left town with a 69-58 Frontier Conference win. (Stats)
The Orediggers left the building looking for answers after shooting 23 for 62 from the field.
“We had a lot of open shots and didn’t make shots,” Hiatt said. “I didn’t think we had great team unity from the get go. I think we had a lot of guys who are concerned about their own playing time and about their own status. We had a lot of open shots that we didn’t make. I thought (the Lights) dictated tempo in the first half, and that’s how the game got away from us.”
Northern (13-9, 5-5) built a 17-point lead in the first half, taking a 38-21 advantage into halftime.
Tech made several runs in the second half. Every time the Orediggers made things interesting, the Lights had an answer.
“They’re a good team,” Hiatt said. “They have a lot of weapons.”
Tech pulled to within three points at 46-43 when Taylor England hit a pair of free throws midway through the second half.
The Lights responded with a bucket by a Mascio McCadney and a 3-pointer by Justin Dunsmore. To extend the lead back to 51-43.
England drove for a bucket with 3:21 left, cutting the lead to 60-56. The Oredigger sophomore, though, was called for a technical foul immediately after the shot.
“Allegedly, he said, ‘and one,’” Hiatt explained. “It was kind of unfortunate timing for that, that’s for sure. It was tough.”
Adam Huse made two free throws to make it 60-53.
Then, when Oredigger Troy Owens Jr. buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 60-56, Dunsmore followed with a quick trey to make it a seven-point lead.
That was as close as the Orediggers got.
“When you’re down 17 at the half, your margin for error is really small,” Hiatt said. “You nearly have to score virtually every possession and get multiple stops.”
Dunsmore scored 16 points to lead five Lights in double figures. He also pulled down 11 rebounds. Kavon Bey, who scored 10 points in the first half, came off the bench to add 14 points and 11 boards. McCadney tossed in 13, while Huse scored 12, and Caulin Bakalarski tossed in 10.
Owens tossed 23 points to lead the Orediggers. England scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds before fouling out with 2:15 left in the game.
Derrius Collins scored seven points for Tech, which got four points from Blake Dittman and two from Dylan Pannabecker.
The Orediggers (14-8, 4-6) don’t have much time to bounce back. Tech, which beat the University of Providence and plays at Lewis-Clark State on Thursday, plays host to Montana Western Tuesday night.
“We play four conference games in seven days,” Hiatt said. “We’ve got to find a way to rest up and see if we can respond here on Tuesday here on our home floor.”