Woodill leads Dawgs to Senior Night victory

DILLON — After suffering just their second home conference loss this season and in the last two years, senior Connor Woodill was not going to let a third loss be on Senior Night for six Bulldogs as he pumped in a game-high 28 points to lead No. 22 Montana Western to an 81-77 victory over Rocky Mountain College. Stats

In a wild Frontier Conference bout, the game never saw a lead larger than seven points, which both teams accomplished, there were only having four ties although the score changed hands 20 times.

Rocky (17-12 overall, 8-9 Frontier) took a one-point advantage into intermission, 35-34, behind the strong play of the Frontier Conference’s leading scorer Rob Nyby. Nyby had 17 points in the first half, all coming in the first 13 minutes when he had 17 of Rocky’s 27 points.

After the break, it was a back-and-forth battle until Montana Western’s (19-11, 12-6) Woodill scored in the paint to give the Bulldogs its first lead of the second half at 47-46 and sparked a 13-4 run that lasted more than five minutes to put the home team up 57-50 with 8:34 remaining.

The Battlin’ Bears would fight themselves back into the game, when a Nyby and-one capped off a 17-8 run and put his team back in front, 67-65.

Trailing by two points with just 2:07 left in the game, Woodill hit what was most likely the biggest shot of the game, a long-range bomb with the shot clock running down to put his team up one point.

The three-pointer proved to be the game-winner as Rocky would never regain the lead as Montana Western knocked down all eight of their free throw attempts in the final two minutes to hold on for the victory.

Woodill finished 7-13 from the field, including 2-6 from downtown, but he added to his total by going 12-13 from the charity stripe to seal the game. He also brought down a team-high nine rebounds.

Fellow senior Demitrius Balark added 19 points on the evening by going 6 for 10 from the floor and 7-9 from the free throw line, he chipped in with two rebounds and two assists in the game.

Shyke Smalls bounced back from a tough game last night to join Woodill and Balark in double-figures, Smalls had 18 points, five rebounds and two steals.

Having scored 991 points heading into the game, senior Dexter Williams, Jr. will have to wait one more game to reach 1,000 career points as he finished with just eight points after battling foul trouble the entire game. Even though his scoring output was down, Williams, Jr. also grabbed six rebounds, blocked two shots and came away with one steal.

As a team, Montana Western finished 31-35 from the free throw line (88 percent) compared to just 10-16 (62 percent) for Rocky Mountain College. The bigger difference was the number of three-point shots the Bears attempted (30) compared to just 13 for the Bulldogs.

Rocky made nine of its 30 attempts, led by a 5-10 effort from Nyby and a 3-6 performance from Taylor Longo.

Smalls and Woodill each made two three-pointers as they Bulldogs converted four of its 13 attempts.

On top of his 27 points, Nyby finished with a double-double as he grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Ben Moerkerke brought in nine boards as the Bears dominated the glass – 52-40.

Longo was the only other visitor to reach double-digits in the scoring column with 20 points, he also dished out a game-high five assists and brought down four rebounds.

Montana Western, who clinched the No. 3 seed in the Frontier Conference tournament, will host the University of Great Falls at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1 in Straugh Gymnasium for a first round matchup.

— Montana Western Sports Information

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