DILLON — The University of Montana Western men’s basketball team bounced back in a big way to earn a win in its first conference game of the season, 79-52. Stats
After giving up nearly 86 points per game in non-conference games to start the 2015-16 campaign, the Bulldogs (4-4, 1-0) locked down defensively and limited the Argos (5-2, 0-1) to a season-low 52 points on 19-59 (32 percent) from the field and forced 19 turnovers.
The first half started as a pitchers dual that saw the Bulldogs hold a 4-2 lead nearly eight minutes into the game before breaking the game open to a 10-point halftime lead, 31-21.
Despite shooting an identical 9-29 from the field, the ‘Dawgs were able to take control by knocking down 10 of 12 shots from the charity stripe and hit three 3-pointers in the half. Two by Kurtis Parson, who came off the bench to spark the late first half run.
Great Falls shoot an ice-cold 0-9 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Argos also turned the ball over 13 times in the half compared to Western’s 7.
The second saw the home team score 48 points on 14 for 26 (54 percent) shooting led by the hot-hand of senior Ryan McCarty. He scored nine of his game-high 15 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers to push the Bulldogs over the top.
Montana Western also pushed the tempo in the second half and got to the rim, where they either finished in traffic or forced an Argo foul. The Bulldogs were 18 for 21 in the half from the line and finished 28 out of 33, compared to 9 for 14 from the visitors.
Dexter Williams, Jr. (14), Demitrius Balark (14) and Kurtis Parsons (10) joined McCarty in double digits.
Williams Jr. added five rebounds, two blocks and two steals to his 5 for 9 shooting performance.
Balark, who finished 8-10 from the free throw line chipped in two assists and two steals.
Junior guard Shyke Smalls continued to stuff the stat sheet as he finished the game with eight points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 30 minutes of action.
It was a very balanced night offensively as four Bulldogs reached double figures and 12 players found the scoring column.
For a squad that has been forced to win games on the offensive end of the floor, tonight’s game was won on defense.
The Argos finished with a measly 32 percent shooting effort from the floor – including 5-25 from downtown – 19 turnovers and only allowed 14 free throw attempts.
The visiting team was led by their lone player to reach double figures, Sergio Berkley (14 points). The night highest scorer was Malik Barnes with seven points. Berkley scored 12 of his points from the 3-point and free throw line as he hit three 3-pointers and finished 3-4 from the stripe.
Montana Western never trailed in the game as they led for 36 of the 40 minutes in the game.
The Bulldogs will return to action as they play host to Montana State – Northern on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Straugh Gymnasium.
— Montana Western Sports Information