Bryan Bock was worth the wait for the Montana Tech men’s basketball team.
Bock, a junior from Rialto, Calif., scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half to help the Orediggers overcome sizeable deficit and beat South Dakota Mines 78-68 Friday night at the HPER Complex.
Bock missed all but seven games last season with a broken foot that required surgery.
“I couldn’t wait to have him back on the court after last year,” Montana Tech head coach Aaron Woliczko said of Bock, who played point guard. “That was huge for us.”
The Orediggers started slow, scoring just eight points in the game’s first 10 minutes. Tech, though, finished like a champion.
Adam Greger hit a pair of free throws with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game to start a 12-2 Oredigger run to close out the game.
“We showed a lot of heart in the second half,” Bock said. “We had a lot of jitters for the first home game, but we came out in the second half and did what we were supposed to do.”
Bock played through obvious pain that came from some cramps in the second half. He left the game twice because of it. Bock said he just needed some fluid, and his foot is fine.
“Everything is perfect with that,” he said. “My foot feels better than last year.”
In a game that had a playoff-like feel for a season opener, the Orediggers got contributions up and down the lineup.
Greger, a sophomore, also scored 19 points for the Orediggers, while junior Travis Peevey came off the bench to score 13.
Woliczko called Peevey’s performance a pleasant surprise.
“He hasn’t shined in practice,” the coach said. “We put him out there tonight, the lights went on and he turned it on, that’s for sure.”
The Orediggers also got nine points and 10 rebounds form Daniel Simon, while freshman Quinn Smith scored eight points and grabbed eight boards in his first game. Smith also had a huge block late in the game.
“It was a big block and a big rebound, and then he made his free throws down here, which was awesome,” Woliczko said.
Tanner Neuman added six points in the win, while Brandon Ryberg and Mitch Buerkle scored two. Reid Baerlocher, Danny Herbert, Roman Pruneda-Garza, Nathan Smith and Paul Egstrom also saw time for the Orediggers.
Woliczko pointed to the 34 free throws the Orediggers shot. They made 23. Tech also hit on 7 of 11 3-pointers.
“That’s the kind of team I want,” the coach said. “I want to be attacking. That’s how we were able to shoot all those free throws. The threes will come. Of the 11 threes, we shot great-looking threes.”
A.J. Trennophl scored 21 to lead the Hardrockers. Calvin Thomas scored 12 points, including an NBA 3-point buzzer-beater to give the Hardrockers at 34-32 lead at halftime.
The second half, though, belonged to the Orediggers.
Bock and Woliczko both credited the boisterous crowd for giving the Orediggers an assists.
South Dakota Mines missed five free throws in the final four minutes. Those came while shooting toward the “HPER Hooligans.”
“I’m glad we had good fan support,” Bock said.
“There was a guy,” Woliczko added, “with Daisy Dukes and 34 painted on his chest.”