Western women take down Orediggers

DILLON — A strong second quarter and a 46-37 halftime advantage propelled the University of Montana Western women’s basketball team to an 80-63 victory over their Frontier Conference foe and rivals, the Montana Tech Orediggers, for the second time this season. Stats

Trailing 26-24 at the end of a back-and-forth first quarter the Bulldogs dialed up the defensive intensity and continued to knock down shots and outscored the Diggers 22-11 in the period.

“It took us about a quarter and a half to settle down and guard,” Western head coach Lindsey Woolley. “Their aggressiveness and speed was really bothering us early.”

After failing to score 50 points in three games this season, the ‘Dawgs almost reached that total by shooting 53 percent (18-34) in the first half, led by Molly Klinker and Sierra Higheagle who scored 12 points apiece on a 10 for 13 combined shooting effort.

The third quarter saw the Diggers cut the deficit by one point after a 15-14 quarter won by Montana Tech. Just as they did in the second quarter, the Bulldogs locked down on defense and erupted on offense by a tune of a 23-8 advantage.

Montana Western was paced by a trio of ‘Dawgs to score in double-figures, led by the strong play of junior Molly Klinker who finished with a game-high 23 points on a 9 for 14 shooting performance, including 3-5 from behind the arc.

McCall Hasquet finished with 21 points and Higheagle finished with 15 after scoring 12 in the first half. Hasquet was an efficient 9-10 from the field and a perfect 3-3 from downtown.

A strong shooting effort propelled the Bulldogs to their first victory in six games, as they shot 49 percent (32-65) from the floor, including a blistering 55 percent (11-20) from three-point territory.

“Other than turnovers, we were very efficient offensively and I couldn’t have been happier for McCall Hasquet, she defended, rebounded and was great on the offensive end,” Woolley said.

Despite a few defensive lapses, the Diggers were limited to just 38 percent (24-63) in the game and an abysmal 25 percent (14-31) in the second half and limited second shot opportunities as they dominated the battle of the boards, 49-34, and only gave up nine offensive rebounds on 46 attempts.

Klinker finished with her fourth double-double of the season as she brought down a game-high 13 boards, she also came away with a game-high three steals.

A balanced effort across the board was key for the Bulldogs as five players recorded four-plus rebounds — Klinker (13), Callie Kanthack (6), Hasquet (5), Aniese Palmore (4) and Britt Cooper (4) —and three came away with three-plus assists — Palmore (7), Kanthack (4) and Cooper (3).

Cooper also finished with two blocked shots and one steal in 22 minutes of action of the bench.

Montana Tech was paced by Rachel Farris who finished with team-high 22 points and eight rebounds.

Butte High product Hattie Thatcher ended the game with 14 points, eight assists and four rebounds despite a poor shooting night where she was just 5-20 from the floor, including 1-5 from deep.

The third Digger to reach double-figures was their leading scorer, Sammy McGree, who was held under her season average with just 10 points.

With the win, Montana Western improved to 12-10 overall and 2-8 in Frontier Conference play as Tech fell to 5-15 and 1-8 on the season.

“There is no time to celebrate,” Woolley said. “It’s time to get ready for a very good LC-State team.”

Montana Western will stay home for a matchup with No. 13 Lewis-Clark State College at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

The Orediggers head to Billings to take on Rocky Mountain College.

— Montana Western Sports Information

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