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Tech women win big

Tech women win big
Montana Tech's Sharlei Graham-Bernisto drives to the hoop between Salish Kootenai players Lone Chimburas, left, and Lauren Lefthand. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bruce Sayler

The 101-24 victory for Montana Tech seemed like a Tech Way reward for the Orediggers, too, on Tuesday.

They beat Salish Kootenai by the wide margin in the non-conference basketball tilt at the Montana Tech HPER Complex. It was the last part of a doubleheader to which attendance was given away to 500 Butte fourth- and fifth-graders as part of a program Oredigger athletics presents to the grade schoolers.

The athletes usually go to the kids’ schools. This time, the grade school students came to see the Orediggers. The Montana Tech men’s basketball team won by 107-50 over Salish Kootenai in the opener of the doubleheader.

“It was a great experience to have 500 kids in the gym cheering for us,” Montana Tech head women’s basketball coach Carly Sanon said.

Much of the game was played by reserves for the Orediggers, but the regulars saw plenty of time to stay honed, as well. The rotation was balanced and wore down Salish Kootenai, which bused in from Pablo with only a seven-player roster.

Butte Central graduate Mollie Peoples scored a career-high 24 points to pace the Montana Tech scoring, which also registered Mesa Williams with 22 points, Shay Potter with 20 and Dani Urick with 19 in its double-digit list.

“We had two tough conference games to start the (Frontier) season, Lewis-Clark State and one of the best teams (Montana Western) in the country, and we stumbled,” Sanon said. “So, we worked very hard to get the team to where we want to get. We did get better offensively today.”

“We put some new things in our offense and we changed things defensively. We hadn’t been shooting very well and we hadn’t many assists. We had 28 assists today and we shot the ball better.”

Plus, the Orediggers streaked.

They charred the Bison with a 31-0 run that closed the first quarter on a 26-2 margin and pushed eight more points through in the second period before Salish Kootenai added anything to its half of the scoreboard.

Peoples, Potter and Williams were the main scorers in the big Montana Tech surge early. The Orediggers never trailed. Peoples gave her team a 3-0 lead with a trey 12 seconds into the game. The Bison answered with a layup by Camille Whiteman and then the Williams hit a step-back jumper for Montana Tech to start the 31-0 splurge.

The halftime score was 43-10 and it was a 76-17 difference after three quarters. The Orediggers then chained the first 18 points of the last frame.

Sanon said it was a chance to see all her players after injuries, sickness and, of course, finals last week depleted the numbers of players available for practice last week.

“We’re getting closer to getting everybody on the court,” she said.

The Orediggers shot 61 percent for the game and were 50 percent, 12-for-24, from 3-pointland. Tjaden Pallister had eight points in back of the team’s double-figure scorers, Kaylee Zard had four, and Megan Delaney and Lana Berg each tallied two. Sharlei Graham-Bernisto and Jaime Berg also played.

Potter’s 10 rebounds and Pallister’s nine fronted a heavy 43-15 advantage in rebounds for Montana Tech. Graham-Bernisto dished seven assists.

The Orediggers are 10-3 for the season and will play the Montana Lady Griz on Thursday in an exhibition game in Missoula. They will resume Frontier Conference play on December 29 at Carroll College in Helena.

Lauren Lefthand led Salish Kootenai with 10 points. The Bison shot 15 percent from the field.

 

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