HELENA — Montana Tech’s women’s basketball team might have started the Frontier Conference season with 10 straight losses.
The Orediggers have opened the Frontier playoffs at 1-0.
Senior guard Mandy Machinal scored 16 points to lead the way as the Orediggers beat Carroll College 52-45 in the first round of the league playoffs at the P.E. Center. Stats
The Orediggers (11-18) will play at regular-season champion Westminster College (23-2), the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, in the semifinals Friday in Salt Lake City.
The University of Great Falls beat Lewis-Clark State 86-80 in the other first-round game Tuesday in Great Falls. The Argos will travel to Havre to take on MSU-Northern on Friday.
Machinal was the lone Oredigger in double figures as the Orediggers used a balanced attack and stingy defense to beat the Saints in Helena for the second time in two weeks.
“It was a defensive battle, that’s for sure,” Tech coach Carly VanDyke said. Both teams had a hard time scoring, and Mandy had a great game for us offensively.”
Shayla Mack scored nine points for the Orediggers. Kabri Emerson and Callee Remsen tossed in eight points apiece, while Marth Dembek scored seven and Hattie Thatcher and Kayla DeWit each scored two.
Dembek also grabbed team-leading seven rebounds.
Bailey Snelling’s 16 points paced the Saints, who close the season at 18-10. Cassidy Hashley scored 14.
VanDyke played for Carroll College and got her coaching career started with the Saints. Here team also got its mojo going with a Feb. 19 win at the P.E. Center. That was the beginning of a stretch that saw the Orediggers win four out of five games, including Tuesday’s playoff.
The run followed a stretch of hard-luck games for the Orediggers, who lost two games by two points and two games by one point.
“We were always so close,” VanDyke said. “We just worked and worked. They never quit, and it paid off.”
VanDyke said she isn’t going to worry about playing the mighty Griffins until Wednesday.
“We’ve got to enjoy this,” she said. “We’ll hit them tomorrow.”