By Bruce Sayler
The last pre-conference game for the Montana Tech women’s basketball team turned into an everybody-plays party.
It was the way the Orediggers’ head coach, Carly Sanon, wanted it, too. Such was especially so when it resulted in a 104-59 victory over Salish Kootenai College at the Montana Tech HPER Complex Tuesday evening.
It helped get over the somberness inflicted by losses to Hope International and The Master’s in Santa Clarita, California, over the weeknd. The injection of confidence also likely helped form a better frame of mind for the team going into next Tuesday’s Frontier Conference opener at Montana Western in Dillon.
“We’re coming off of a tough weekend in California where we didn’t play our game and made a lot of mistakes,” Sanon said.
Montana Tech was undefeated until the California losses this young season.
“So, we had a tough practice yesterday,” Sanon said. “Everybody got to play today and they worked on the things we didn’t do over the weekend.”
The application was a success as the Orediggers 52 percent from the floor for the game, including a blistering 61 percent in the first half. The rebounds margin was 48-30 in Montana Tech’s favor, It was 26-8 before halftime as the home team broke out to a 64-28 command.
Kourtney Coverdell scored 21 points and didn’t play much of the second half, not at all in the fourth quarter. She was one of six Montana Tech scorers in double figures and she earned 16 of her points by intermission.
“Kourtney shot the ball well. She’s a good player, for sure,” Sanon said. “Coming off two really good teams in California, we needed to focus on defense and our defensive fundamentals. Our offense needed to work on angles to attack the rim and we did that, tonight.”
Montana Tech was ahead in a hurry. Coverdell broke a 2-all tie to begin a six-point run Oredigger run. Monica Landdeck netted two free throws and then drove for a basket after picking up a loose ball. Salish Kootenai never caught up to Montana Tech. The Orediggers outscored the Bison 24-15 the rest of the period for a 32-17 command after one quarter. The Montana Tech bench was cleared quickly and Sanon substituted freely, using different personnel combinations, and also set units the rest of the way.
The home crowd got its first look at freshman Adriane Horn, who made her season and program debut in Santa Clarita over the weekend. She scored nine points and grabbed two rebounds Tuesday.
“She redshirted last year and she’s been injured,” Sanon said. “She played a little bit over the weekend. She’s a good shooter.”
Most, if not all, of the Orediggers seemed to be sharp in the basket-making department. Coverdell was joined in double figures by Shay Potter with 12 points, all from the inside, Sammy McGree with 11, and Landdeck, Hailey Crawford and Mollie Peoples with 10 points apiece.
Crawford, from Helena, and Peoples, a Butte Central alum, are both true freshmen.
Montana Tech widened the difference to 50-26 in the second quarter then tallied 14 unanswered points over the last 5 ½ minutes of the half. Peoples caged six of the points in the run that was manufactured all by players off the bench. Horn also had six of the points and Bailey Armbruster capped the surge with a medium-range jump shot.
Kristie Runsabove was Salish Kootenai’s main threat with 11 points before halftime and 23 for the game. Teammate Braylee Stone scored 12.
“We had only three turnovers in the second half,” Sanon said, noting the success in taking care of the ball was particularly noteworthy with the fast pace of the game considered. “That’s the way we like to play.”
The Orediggers appeared to have the depth to do it, too. Fourteen Montana Tech players saw action and all received sizeable chunks time.
Kaylee Zard led Montana Tech on the boards with eight rebounds while Potter pulled down seven. Runsabove paced the Bison with six. The Orediggers registered 25 assists against only 10 turnovers overall. Hannah Sparks dished five of the assists, and Landdeck and Zard each dealt four. Zard also came up with a game-high four steals. Kaylea Skunk Cap handed out a game-high five assists for Salish Kootenai.
The Orediggers will take an 8-2 overall record to Dillon for the game with Western next Tuesday.