BUTTE — Led by 15 points from Montana State-Northern’s Peyton Kehr, the Lights were able to hold off Montana Tech for a 59-51 Frontier Conference win on Saturday night.
Both teams started off hot, combining for seven 3-points in the first quarter, but rapidly cooled off after that. Kehr was blistering from behind the arc and hit 5-of-9 perimeter shots. Tech, meanwhile, hit just 4-of-12 shots from deep and were 0-for-4 in the second half.
“She’s going to want a couple of those 3’s she missed back, I think,” MSU-N head coach Christ Mouat said. “She’s a knockdown shooter. She’s really growing and getting better and I think the kids did a good job of getting her the ball when she was open.
“She stepped up and made some big ones.”
Trailing by nine at half time, Montana Tech trimmed the lead to single digits several times throughout the third and fourth quarters. But every time the Orediggers started to cut deep into the lead, the Lights responded.
While Tech was able to stick close with solid free throw shooting — the Orediggers were 17-of-21 for the game — they simply weren’t able to get the one shot they needed to completely close the gap to go down.
“We couldn’t buy a bucket, there was a lid on the rim,” Tech head coach Carly Sanon said. “They shot well from the field and we didn’t … we didn’t execute our offense very well in the first half, we weren’t staying in our stuff.”
Kaylee Zard led the way for Montana Tech with 20 points and nine rebounds. Accounting for most of Tech’s free throw shooting, she was 10-of-11 from the line and didn’t commit a foul. Appearing to injure her ankle with a bit under two minutes to go in the game, she managed to return before the final buzzer. Sanon said it was an ongoing thing, though Zard did play 33 minutes on the evening.
Tech did get back Nia Faletoi, who hadn’t played since a Jan. 5 game against Rocky Mountain College. Faletoi spent less than two minutes on the floor, but there’s confidence she’ll be ready for a larger portion of minutes sooner rather than later.
“It’s nice. The protocol for return to play and you could kind of see that tonight,” Sanon said. “Get a couple of practices under her belt and that will help us tremendously.”
Outside of Zard, freshman Dani Urick was the only other Oredigger in double figures as she finished with 11 points.
Senior Northern point guard Gokce Alsan scored 11, with the final four coming as important free throws at the end of the game. Hailey Nicholson scored 10 for Northern.
“I was proud of our kids tonight,” Mouat said. “We dodged a bullet. We had too many turnovers, but we got them on the boards which was huge for us. They do such a great job on the offensive boards so I’m proud of our kids for that.
“We had a lot of kids step up and play tonight.”