Orediggers fall short in battle with No. 6 Saints

By Bill Foley

That was the team Carly Sanon has been talking about.

Montana Tech’s women’s basketball team put up an inspired effort Saturday afternoon at the HPER Complex. Unfortunately for the Orediggers, the opponent was just too much.

Carroll College, the No. 6-ranked team in the NAIA, fought off Montana Tech for a 54-57 victory. (Stats)

“That’s the team that we’re capable of being,” Sanon said after her Orediggers fell to the team she played for in college.

Daniel Wagner hit five 3-pointers and scored 26 points to lead the Saints, who improved to 18-4 overall and 6-2 in Frontier Conference play with their second win over the Orediggers.

Carroll beat Tech by 32 points when the teams met Jan. 6 in Helena.

“Dani Wagner had a great night tonight,” Sanon said. “When they needed to score, they gave her the ball.”

The Saints led most of the game, taking a 25-17 lead into halftime. The Saints opened the third quarter quickly, and Carroll built at 14-point lead at 33-19 when Jamie Pickens knocked down a jumper with 8 minutes, 21 seconds left on the third quarter clock.

Tech, though, did not go away. The Orediggers went on a 12-0 run that included 3-pointers by Mollie Peoples and Dani Urick.

Ally Cleverly fed Tavia Rooney for a bucket to cut the lead to 33-31 with 5:34 on the clock.

That, however, was as close as the Orediggers would come. Every time they had a run, the Saints had an answer.

A pair of 3-ponters by Peoples early in the fourth pulled Tech to within five points. Celestina Faletoi scored on a layup to cut the lead to five at 50-45 with 7:43 left.

Wagner, though, scored 11 points down the stretch to keep the Orediggers at bay.

“That’s a really good team,” Sanon said. “They’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve got a lot of seniors.”

Christine Denny added nine points and six rebounds for the Saints. Jaidyn Lyman scored eight, and Kamden Hilborn and Pickens each scored seven. Pickens, a transfer from the University of Montana, also pulled down five rebounds.

Brooke Heggie’s 18 points paced the Orediggers. Rooney followed with 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists.

Peoples finished with nine points and Urick tossed in seven. Tech also got four from Cleverly, three from McKayla Kloker and two from Faletoi.

“We had a long talk yesterday before film about a few things, and I think that kind of fired us,” Sanon said. “We shot well from the field tonight, but we just had too many turnovers. We’ve got to continue to get better against pressure.”

Carroll forced the Orediggers into 20 turnovers on the game.

Still, Sanon could not help but feel good about her team, which fell to 11-12 and 2-6. Next week, the Orediggers head to the University of Providence before hosting MSU-Northern on Saturday.

“We needed that,” Sanon said of Tech’s effort. “Coming out and doing that against a really good team was big. That isn’t an average team.

“If we can continue to play like that, it will be a lot of fun the rest of the season.”