DILLON — The University of Montana Western men’s basketball rallied from a double-digit deficit in the last four minutes to knock off No. 12 Carroll College, 90-88, in double overtime in a Frontier Conference battle inside Straugh Gymnasium on Thursday night. Stats
The Bulldogs (11-7, 4-2 Frontier) took an early 6-5 lead just three minutes into the game before a 3-pointer from Match Burnham gave Carroll (12-4, 5-1) a lead they would hold until the Bulldogs final possession of regulation.
Carroll stretched its lead to as many as 17 points in the first half when they took a 31-14 lead with 7:06 remaining. Montana Western was able to cut into the lead as they finished the half on a 16-6 run heading into intermission with the score in favor of Carroll, 37-30.
The second half started with a Saints 13-5 run that put them up 50-35 just over five minutes into the frame. Trailing by 15 points on their home floor in a pivotal conference matchup, the Bulldogs started to chip away at the Carroll lead.
The charge was led by the duo of junior Shyke Smalls and freshman Troy Scott. Over the final 14:16 of regulation, Smalls and Scott combined to score 32 points, grab four rebounds and dish out two assists. During the span, Montana Western outscored Carroll 38-23 to tie the game on a smalls lay-in with just nine seconds remaining in the game.
Despite taking a last-second lead, the ‘Dawgs were not comfortable as Zach Taylor’s final second heave on December 9th in Helena banked in and sealed a victory for Carroll. This time they were prepared as they forced Taylor into a contested fade away jump shot at the buzzer that was no good, sending the game into overtime knotted at 73.
With some free basketball, the fans were not disappointed as the teams traded blows, none able to knock the other out. After a back-and-forth battle, the Bulldogs were able to have the final possession and Smalls shot at the buzzer fell short and the teams headed into double overtime tied at 83.
Montana Western struck first on a Dexter Williams, Jr. lay-up to take a two point advantage after the possession in the second overtime. Oliver Carr answered with a trip to the free throw line where he converted on 1 of 2 attempts, cutting their deficit to one point.
Smalls connected on a long-range bomb to put the Bulldogs up 88-84 with 3:09 on the clock. The Fighting Saints did not give up as they battled back with the help of missed free throws and turnovers from the Bulldogs that saw them tie the game at 88-all with just 33 seconds remaining.
A Connor Woodill three-point attempt with four seconds remaining was off the mark, but Carroll was unable to secure the rebound and lost the ball out-of-bounds with .8 seconds to go.
After a Western time-out to draw up what proved to be the final play, Williams, Jr. was fouled by Burnham on a lob attempt that sent him to the charity stripe with a chance to win the game.
Williams, Jr., who had missed his previous four free throw attempts, calmly stepped to the line and knocked down both shots to seal the victory and hand Carroll their first conference loss of the season.
In a game that had four players rack up more than 40 minutes of playing time – two from each team – with Carroll’s Taylor (44) and Lorel Johnson (40) and Western’s Williams, Jr. (48) and Smalls (41), there were seven players who reached double figures in the scoring column.
The Saints were led by the conference’s leading scorer – Zach Taylor – who finished with 26 points on a very efficient 7 for 13 shooting effort that was aided by a 9 for 11 performance from the charity stripe.
Burnham pumped in 23 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 10 for 11 from the free throw line, as Ryan Imhoff (13) and Matt Wyman (12) joined them in double figures.
Taylor and Johnson tied with a team-high four assists as Imhoff and Jake Hollifield recorded six rebounds apiece.
Montana Western’s comeback effort saw three players have double-digit scoring outings led by Smalls who tallied a game-high 29 points – 23 came in the second half. It was the third time this season that Smalls has scored 20-plus points in the second half of a game. He finished the game 12 for 19 from the field, including a 3 for 7 effort from three.
Scott, a redshirt freshman from Dillon, scored a career-high 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including two made 3-pointers, in 33 minutes of action before fouling out in the second overtime. Scott scored 14 in the second half to help propel his team to a much-needed victory, he also dished out a game-high six assists and grabbed five rebounds.
Just missing out on a double-double was Williams, Jr. who finished with 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds and two steals. He ended the game with a 5-10 shooting performance and a 6 for 12 effort from the free throw line. None of his free throw makes were bigger than the game-winners with less than one second remaining.
Despite being out from the three-point and free throw lines, Montana Western was able to win the battle of the boards by a slim margin (40-36), force Carroll into more turnovers (26-19) and come away with the win.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Friday night at 7:30 as they play host to Rocky Mountain College in another Frontier Conference matchup.
— Montana Western Sports Information