The night couldn’t have started much worse for the Montana Tech basketball team Thursday at the HPER Complex.
Facing what the Orediggers viewed as a must-win game against Rocky Mountain College, the Orediggers saw senior captain Kelsey DeWit pick up two fouls before most fans even found their seat.
Tech, which got just 49 seconds out of their post player in the first half, then fell behind by the scores of 12-2 and 14-4 on a night the Orediggers only shot 33 percent from the field.
Junior guard Sophia Baetz sparked the offense by hitting three 3-pointers and scoring all of her 13 points in the first half. Then the Tech defense took over in a 57-44 Frontier Conference victory. Box Score
“With the shooting percentage we had and to win by double digits, that tells you how good our defense was tonight,” Tech coach DeAnn Craft said. “Our defense was tremendous tonight.”
Craft praised her young team for overcoming the loss of DeWitt, who ended the night with 10 points.
“That really changed the complexity just from an offensive standpoint for our team,” the coach said of DeWit being forced to the bench. “I cannot continue to praise some of the freshmen enough. Callee Remsen came in and played a lot of minutes.”
Remsen scored four points and collected six rebounds in the win.
“Maybe it’s not as many points as the others can give us, but it’s the solid defense,” Craft said of Remsen. “It’s the filling of the lanes, it’s the getting her hands on balls. She didn’t play scared.”
Baetz’s 13 points paced Tech’s offensive attack that was balanced, if not hot-shooting.
Kabri Emerson posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, Mandy Machinal scored nine points, and Martha Dembek tossed in eight.
Craft raved about Emerson, a junior college transfer and Butte High graduate.
“I’ll keep saying this until the conference hears me,” Craft said. “I think she’s the best utility post in this league. She does all the things that coaches want to see all players adopt, and she does them naturally.
“She never gives up on a ball,” the coach continued. “She’s always trying to keep an offensive possession alive for you. She goes to the ball instead of letting the ball come to her. Then you look at the end of the night and she has 11 and 11.”
Hattie Thatcher added two points and seven rebounds for the Orediggers, who also got contributions from Shayla Mack ad Rachel Farris.
Brittany Kumm scored 14 points to lead Rocky, which fell to 7-6 and 0-4. Megan Halstead scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss. Allie Seauvageau scored seven.
The victory was Tech’s first Frontier win, as the Orediggers improved to 1-3 in conference and 5-5 overall.
“Our kids knew the importance of this game,” Craft said. “The first one is always the one that can give you a chance to get you on a roll.”
The Orediggers will try to build on that win Saturday when Dickinson State comes to town for a battle at the HPER.
That game tips off at 2 p.m. Craft said her team will treat it as a must-win game, too.
“If you want to be ready in February, you better not forget January,” the coach said. “We’ve got to stop doing something, and you can’t look forward. You’ve got to look at the immediate.”