Oredigger women punch playoff ticket

Dannii Devenny surprised herself Thursday night.

The Montana Tech junior scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the second half to lead the Montana Tech women’s basketball team to a 50-46 Frontier Conference win over Rocky Mountain College at the HPER Complex.

“I had 17 points in the second half?,” Devenny said. The Perth, Australia, native was also surprised by the 21 points she scored.

“I think that’s the most for me ever in my college career,” she said. “That’s a first for me. It feels good, I’m not going to lie. I’m not a scorer, usually.”

Devenny’s outburst came just when the Orediggers needed it. With junior center Kelsie DeWit out with an ankle injury that is worse than first thought and leading scorer Mandy Machinal in foul trouble, Devenny basically put the Orediggers on her back down the stretch in a win that clinched a spot in the Frontier Conference playoffs.

“Dannii was definitely our best option tonight. She did great,” Tech coach Kerie DePell said. “I was so proud of her. In the past she kind of shied away from contact a little bit. Now she’s going to find it and getting to the free throw line. Right now she’s our best free throw shooter.”

Devenny, who says she usually prefers to pass the ball than shoot it, was the only Oredigger in double figures scoring.

Booke Pokorny tossed in nine points, while Erika Jenkins and Brynne Kambich scored seven. The Orediggers also got three from Shaye Murphy, two from Machinal and one from Lisa Laslovich, who returned from a bruised knee that forced her out of action last week.

Murphy and Jenkins each grabbed eight rebounds. Machinal pulled down seven. Ivana Lacmanovic also contributed for the Orediggers.

“This is really the first time I’ve ever stepped up and been a scorer. I’m usually the everything other person,” Devenny said. “Sometimes I feel like a ball hog, and I hate that feeling. Other times coach is just like, ‘You’ve got to do it,’ and I do it.”

Devenny hit 9 of 11 free throws — all in the second half.

With Tech down 29-24 early in the second half, Devenny got the Orediggers rolling with a pair of free throws. The next time down the court, she hit a 3-pointer. Devenny added a second three 2 minutes later to cap a 10-1 run that put Tech up 34-30.

Devenny said the second half was just a matter of being more aggressive for the Orediggers, who hit on just 1 of their first 13 shots from 3-point land before Devenny buried her first trey.

“We were just going back and forth along the 3-point line. No one was really attacking. In the second half I told myself to attack, to be more aggressive,” Devenny said. “Once we started attacking, we were doing so much better.”

The game saw six ties and eight lead changes before Devenny put the Orediggers up for good with a pair of free throws for a 39-38 advantage with 5:18 left in the game.

Pokorny drove for a hoop the next time down court to put Tech in control during the final minutes.

Brittany Myers hit 8 of 8 free throws and scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to pace the Battlin’ Bears, who fell to 5-8 in conference and 8-15 overall. Butte High graduate Kalli McCloskey scored eight of her 10 points in the first half for Rocky.

Montana Tech, which is in a battle with MSU-Northern for third place, improved to 8-5 and 15-10. The top four teams host a playoff game.

“It was a huge win,” DePell said. “Everybody’s stepping up. It’s different people every night. It’s a fun way to play and it’s a fun way to coach, calling sets for a bunch of people instead of the same ones every night. I have confidence in them now. They’re showing what they can do and proving a lot.”

The Orediggers play host to Dickinson State, which played Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, Thursday night, at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the HPER.

“We’ve just got to keep playing like a team,” Devenny said. “When we go away from that, that’s when we struggle.”

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