If there was any doubt that the Montana Tech men’s basketball team would bounce back from Thursday’s tough loss to Rocky Mountain College, it didn’t last long Friday night.
The Orediggers scored the game’s first 11 points and rolled to a 71-56 wire-to-wire win over Dickinson State at the HPER Complex.
“We played really hard as a whole team,” said Tech sophomore Adam Greger, who poured in 27 points to lead the Orediggers. “We really brought the energy tonight. Obviously we started out really strong, going up 11-0, and our defense was really good tonight.”
Tech kept its slim playoff hopes alive with the victory. Also, the Orediggers gave seniors Daniel Simon and Tanner Neumann a Senior Night to remember.
Four Orediggers scored in double figures. Bryan Bock tossed in 12 points, while Simon, who pulled down 11 rebounds, and Brandon Rydberg each tossed in 11.
Tech also got six points from Roman Pruneda-Garza and two each from Quinn Smith and Paul Engstrom.
“It was great to see our guys bounce back like that,” Tech coach Aaron Woliczko said. “I’m really excited about the way we had guys step up tonight, especially D-Si (Simon) getting a double-double in his final game.”
The Orediggers led 37-24 at halftime, and Tech ended any Dickinson comeback hopes early in the second half.
Greger said rebounding was key to holding off the Blue Hawks after the break.
“In the second half we really turned it around, not giving up offensive rebounds,” said the 6-foot-7 Greger, who grabbed six boards. “That was the main focus at halftime is that the only reason they were in the game was offensive rebounds. We did a good job adjusting.”
John Hanstad scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Blue Hawks, who fell to 3-9 in conference and 10-18 overall. Jarek Hansen scored 10 points.
The Orediggers improved to 6-8 in conference and 15-13 overall, clinching at least a .500 regular season.
The Orediggers, who need to win out and have Rocky Mountain lose out to make the playoffs, close the regular season at Montana Western and Westminster College next week.
Rocky plays at Lewis-Clark State Saturday. The Bears play at home against MSU-Northern and the University of Great Falls next week.
“Last night kind of hurt,” Greger said of the loss to Rocky. “There’s still a chance. We’re just going to focus on winning out and hope something goes our way.”
Woliczko’s thoughts were with Neumann after the game. The Butte Central graduate broke his foot and has been on the bench the last few weeks.
“It’s emotional for me not to have Tanner out there,” the coach said. “I wish something was different. It’s difficult for me to see a great kid not be out there on his final home game.”
Of course, that emotion was cushioned by the victory.
Woliczko said his team is going to celebrate the victory by participating in the Chinese New Year parade tomorrow in Uptown Butte.
“The team will be the dragon walking down the street,” the coach said. “Hopefully it won’t be too cold.”