Tech men tune up with 121-68 victory

Tech men tune up with 121-68 victory
Montana Tech's Derrius Collins goes up for a bucket over a pair of Salish Kootenai College defenders Tuesday night at the HPER Complex. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

As his team played its last tune up before jumping into Frontier Conference play next week, Montana Tech men’s basketball coach Adam Hiatt wanted to see one thing Tuesday night.

He wanted to see the ball to through the basket.

The Orediggers showed their coach just that, and they showed him over and over and over.

Tech drained 44 of 72 shots from the field, and the Orediggers rolled to a 121-68 win over Salish Kootenai College in a non-conference game at the HPER Complex. Stats

“It was nice for us tonight to see the ball go through the basket. It was terrific,” Hiatt said after seven Oredigger reached double figures in the win that lifted Tech to a 5-3 record.

The loss came after the Orediggers played well but went 1-3 against tough competition in tournaments in Idaho the last two weekends.

“We were very efficient,” Hiatt said of a game in which the Orediggers never trailed. “We didn’t just race up and down and take a lot of shots. We ran a lot of good plays. That was really what we were hoping to accomplish tonight, coming off a difficult stretch where we’ve been on the road.”

Hiatt said shots not falling has been the undoing of the Orediggers on the road.

“We’ve been playing great and had terrific shots,” Hiatt said. “We just haven’t been able to put the ball in the hole. To see it go through tonight is going to be big for us.”

The Orediggers played without three injured players, Kale Guldseth, Dylan Pannabecker and Trent Molesworth.

Senior John Chapman, who leads the team in scoring off the bench, started and scored a career-high 27 points.

Iman Chatman also jumped into the starting lineup and scored 17 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Chatman’s big game included a thunderous one-handed dunk in traffic.

“Adversity creates opportunity,” Hiatt said of the Oredigger injury woes. “There’s been opportunity for other players, and a lot of them stepped up.”

True freshman Nick Fitts had his highest-scoring game as an Oredigger, pouring in 19 points. Fitts hit 5 of 10 shots from 3-point territory. As a team, the Orediggers hit 15 of 30 shots from down town.

Chris O’Neill scored 15 points, Darrius Collins tallied 13, and Taylor England and Jake Miles each scored 11.

Tech, which used just nine players, also got five points from Carson Dummer and three from Gavin McPherson.

Aquino Brinson scored 26 points for the Bison. Jaydon Bautista added 13, and Zachary Mills scored 11.

Salish Kootenai scored 27 of its points off 37 free throw attempts. That is a stat that Hiatt pointed to as the Orediggers start to focus on the Frontier opener next Tuesday at Montana Western.

“We did a pretty good job,” the coach said of his team’s defense. “We turned them over a few times and they shot a low percentage. But we didn’t defend without fouling very well. We’ve to figure that out because we’ve got a terrific team at getting to the foul line coming up.”

Hiatt said he expects to get all three of his injured players back soon. Molesworth, a 6-foot-7 senior who transferred to Tech this year, has missed the last seven games.

“He’s a big piece to what we’re trying to build,” Hiatt said. “It’s been great development for guys playing behind him — for Taylor England and Carson Dummer. Their minutes have expanded.”

Hiatt, who is in his second season leading the Orediggers, said he expects his team to be competitive as it steps up into conference play.

“All we’re trying to do is have opportunities to win, and we’ve had opportunities to win every game that we played this far,” Hiatt said. “That’s all that I can ask for. The next progression for this team is to figure out how to win those games.”

After next Tuesday’s game at Western, the Orediggers will play at home against Lewis-Clark State College on Dec. 2.

“We will compete hard and we will defend to the best of our ability,” Hiatt said. “Then it will come down to can we make enough shots, as it always does.”

On Tuesday night, those shots were not a problem at all.

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