DILLON — The University of Montana Western could not quite put a whole game together last weekend. On Thursday, Nov. 29, the Bulldogs struggled through the first half and on Saturday, Dec. 1, they stumbled in the second.
Montana Western traveled to Pocatello, Idaho on Thursday for an exhibition game against Idaho State University. The Bulldogs then opened up conference play on Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah with a 63-84 loss to Westminster.
Idaho State used a 17-3 run in the first half to take control of the game. The Bengals shot 45 percent (13-29) from the field and held the Bulldogs to just 24 percent (7-29), taking a 17-36 halftime lead.
In the second half, Montana Western outscored Idaho State 35-34 but could not overcome the halftime deficit. The Bulldogs improved their shooting to 43 percent (12-28) from the field and dropped the Bengals to 41 percent (9-22). The 52-70 loss is not included in the Bulldogs’ record.
The Bulldogs were perfect from the free-throw line but had just five baskets compared to the Bengal’s 20 (out of 26 for 77 percent).
Tyler Miller and Maazin Butler led the Bulldogs with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Kris Castro had a team-high six rebounds and Gabe Rucker had three assists.
Idaho State’s top contributors were Chris Hansen (20 points), Tomas Sanchez (17 points) and Melvin Morgan (13 points and 13 rebounds).
On Saturday, Montana Western came out ready to play against Westminster, who are currently ranked 13th in the NAIA and are the preseason favorite to win the Frontier Conference. The Bulldogs shot 57 percent (13-23) from the field compared to Westminster’s 39 percent (11-28). Montana Western held a slight lead at halftime, 32-31.
The Griffins started the second half with a 17-5 run in the first six minutes. Montana Western would bring it back to within five before Westminster went on another six-minute run, this time outscoring the Bulldogs 23-4. Montana Western could not recover and suffered the 63-84 loss.
For the game, the Bulldogs shot 48 percent (23-48) from the field, 44 percent (8-18) behind the arc and 86 percent (9-12) from the line. However, Montana Western’s 23 turnovers led to 31 points for Westminster while their 10 turnovers were only good for nine Bulldog points.
Vince Turk led the Bulldogs with 12 points and seven rebounds. Tyler Miller added 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Gabe Rucker came off the bench to score 10 points and dish three assists.
Westminster got 13 points from Jordan Hayter and 12 apiece from Alex Drecksel, Colton Moon and Jordan Bjornberg. Drecksel also had seven assists and seven rebounds.
Montana Western will return home for the first time since an Oct. 27 win against Walla Walla University. The Bulldogs will play back-to-back games against the University of Calgary on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8. Following the women, Friday’s game will be at 7:30 p.m. while the men play first on Saturday at 4 p.m.
— UM Western Sports Information