By Bruce Sayler
Montana Tech’s offense was quite a bit more Bake than it was shake in a 98-62 college men’s basketball 20-9 Thursday in the Orediggers’ HPER Complex.
The getaway the Orediggers pulled from 3-point shooting distance did, most likely, shake the Lightning of St. Mary’s University from Calgary. Montana Tech backup guard Keeley Bake left the bench to pump in four 3-point shots in as many attempts before halftime to lead the Oredigger explosion.
Montana Tech never trailed in the non-conference game. Crishon Dixon gave the team a four-point start on its lead with two layups in
STATS the first 37 seconds and when Bake buried his first “three,” the difference widened to 14-11 with 14 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half.
Bake didn’t miss a shot in the first half and the 15 points he wound up the game with tied him with Caleb Bellach for the team-high.
Adam Hiatt, head coach of the Orediggers, agreed that what Bake produced “was really awesome.” He said the 5-foot-11 sophomore guard from Fairfield is seeing tighter coverage as a result of his shooting success.
“They’re tightening his air space because he can shoot it,” Hiatt said.
Montana Tech had a large lead in a hurry. The Orediggers’ first run was a 20-9 measure that included 3-point baskets by Camdyn LaRance, Bake, Emani Scott and Bridger Larson.
Hiatt was cautiously impressed. Despite the early eruption of points, defense remains the star in Montana Tech’s presentation.
“It really was good to get the team back on the court,” he said, alluding to the holiday break that started last week. “(The Lightning) are the second-best team in their conference. The best one (Keyano University) will be here tomorrow.
“(The Lightning) were missing a couple of their players today, and sometimes it is hard when you’re expecting some players to play who don’t. You have to adjust, which is what we did at halftime.”
By halftime, the Orediggers owned a decisive 48-29 advantage. Then, they outscored St. Mary’s 10-2 in the first 2 ½ minutes past intermission for a 58-31 command. The Lightning pared the difference to 17 points, but fell behind by 30 on a LaRance 3-pointer with 5:43 left.
“We feel like our potential is unharnessed,” Hiatt said. “We haven’t scratched the surface. Our message to our players is that if we master the simple, we’ll be fine. If don’t make the little things too complicated, we’ll be OK. The guys have been working really hard since coming back on Monday.”
Montana Tech will play Keyano, of Fort McMurray, Alberta, at 4 p.m. in the HPER Complex, after the 2 p.m. women’s game between the two schools.
The Orediggers used their entire roster in the win over St. Mary’s on Thursday. If not planned, it was appreciated by Hiatt and staff.
“With back-to-back games, you have to keep people fresh,” he said. “And, we have some guys we’re looking at for increased roles in the conference games. We saw a lot of guys today.”
He pointed out contributions from Sam Gray and Levi Torgerson as being among the attention-getters.
Bake went 5-for-7 from 3-point land in scoring his 15 points. LaRance and Larson each finished with 11 points to give Montana Tech four double-figure scorers. Michael Ure led in rebounds with 11 and Larson pulled down nine. Dixon had nine points, Hayden Diekhans seven, Bridger Deden, Scott and Gray each tallied six, Ure and Torgerson each tallied three, and Asa Williams, Ty Huse and Owen Long each scored two points. John Dhuol also played.
Hiatt turned the focus to the team’s defense that held the Lightning to 34 percent shooting, including 28 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
“Our defense for us is all effort,” the coach said.
Caleb Jipp of St. Mary’s led all scorers with 19 points and teammate Brock Dewsbery tossed in 18. They were the Lightning’s only double-digit scorers. Pelumi Ajayi was next with eight points.
Montana Tech went to 12-2 for the season.