BUTTE, Mont. – The Montana Tech men’s basketball team needed a little extra time, but the wait was worth it as the Orediggers claimed the Frontier Conference Title in front of a packed gym. The Orediggers wrapped up the championship with an 87-78 overtime victory over the Carroll College Fighting Saints.
Carroll (11-13, 5-8) was down by seven with 5:41 to play finishing regulation on a 14-8 run. Jonny Hillman tied the game at 69 with a layup with 1:08 left and got the extra chance getting fouled on the play.
Asa Williams grabbed the rebound after Hillman missed his free throw attempt. Chrishon Dixon drained the clock bringing the ball down court as time wound down. After a loose ball, the Orediggers were able to call a timeout with 2.7 seconds left. Keeley Bake missed on a three-pointer from the corner moving the game to overtime.
The Orediggers rattled off the first nine points in extra time quickly putting Tech ahead 78-69 with 2:51 to go in the game. Those nine points was the difference as Tech outscored Carroll 18-9 in overtime.
Tech hit 4 for 5 from the field in overtime including 2 for 3 from three-point range with both long balls coming from Williams as he finished with 11 points. Williams made 5 of 5 from the free throw line and the Orediggers hit 8 for 9. Tech had six rebounds while Carroll came up with none.
The first half stayed close with four lead changes and Tech holding the largest lead of six before halftime. The teams went into the locker room at the break with the Orediggers up 30-28.
Caleb Bellach scored 17 points in the first half going 6 for 11 from the field. Bellach finished with 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Despite finishing ahead before the break, Tech shot 32.4% from the field but took 12 more shots than the Saints.
The Saints shot 44% from the field in the first half and went 1 for 5 from long. Carroll had a 21-15 rebound advantage in the half.
The Saints committed seven turnovers in the first half.
With 7:50 to play Hayden Diekhans led off a 10-0 run giving Tech their largest lead of the half as the Orediggers went up 63-55 with 5:10 to play before the Saints started their comeback.
Andrew Cook had 16 of his 27 points in the second half to lead the Saints. Hillman had 18 points and led the Saints with eight rebounds.
The Saints finished shooting 46.9% from the field but only made 2 of their 11 three-point attempts and shot 16 of 26 from the free throw line.
Brendan Temple finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.
The Orediggers hit 5 of 9 threes in the second half and shot 60% from the field. Tech finished shooting 46.3% in the game.
Williams finished with 17 points, four rebounds, and three steals.
Dixon had 11 points, five assists, and four rebounds.
The Orediggers had 19 assists in the game tying their second highest mark of the season and most in a conference game.
Both MSU-Northern and the University of Providence lost tonight helping the Orediggers clinch the conference title for themselves this year. The Orediggers had to share the regular season championship last year but wrapped up the hardware with two games to go.
The Orediggers finish the home season perfect and extend their win streak on Kelvin Sampson Court to 27 games. Tech has won 16 straight conference games in the HPER Complex going back to last season. Both marks are the most in program history.
Montana Tech is in Great Falls Saturday taking on the Argos.