DILLON — The Diggers and Dawgs played a tight first half at the Straugh Gymnasium, but Montana Western turned it on in the second half.
The Bulldogs beat Montana Tech 66-51 in the first Tech-Western contest of the year, handing a second-straight loss for the Orediggers (11-5) after the winter break. For Western, the win puts head coach Lindsay Woolley’s team at 10-5.
Woolley credited junior guards Shannon Worster and Paige Holmes, who had nine and 16 points respectively, for standout performances.
“Paige [Holmes] and Shannon [Worster] were really good today,” Woolley said. “I mention Paige because she drew the assignment of guarding Mesa Williams, who’s a really hard guard. To hold her to nine, that’s hard to do.”
Western’s overall better shooting, 44.8 percent from the field, kept the Bulldogs in front for the majority of the game, but Tech consistently stayed on pace in the first three quarters.
However, an eventual 30.9 percent shooting average doomed the Orediggers, as Western’s offense picked up momentum and Tech’s defense faltered.
Orediggers head coach Carly Sanon discussed her feelings on Tech’s loss at Keltz Arena.
“We didn’t shoot very well against Rocky,” Sanon said. “And we didn’t shoot very well today. We missed a lot of layups and that hurt us. I thought in the second half, we got tied up with them, and then [Western] hit a couple threes to put them up and I felt in the fourth quarter that our defense brock down in areas that we hadn’t been breaking down.”
Tech’s scorers were led by senior Kaylee Zard and junior Mollie Peoples, who each put up 12 points. Nine points from Mesa Williams and eight from Dani Urick rounded out the Orediggers’ top scorers.
Sanon said that the back-to-back road games have been a challenge, but that she believes in her team as Tech enters an extended home run.
“It’s hard to win games on the road,” Sanon said. “But the bright side is that we have four games coming up at home. We’ve got to regroup, and we will. We’re there and at the point that we’re ready to do it, we just have to figure out how.”
Western was led by Holmes, with redshirt sophomore Mesa King contributing 12 points, while redshirt freshman Gracey Meyer added 10.
Woolley said his young team is still growing, but that the close nature of tonight’s game was encouraging going forward.
“There’s going to be swings,” Woolley said. “We get up 11, and they tied it. They did it a couple times. Just to stay even with [Tech] is huge, obviously it’s easier at home. But I think our team did a real nice job of handling adversity.”
Tech returns to Butte to host Providence on Thursday, Jan. 16, while Western hits the road against the road to take on Carroll College on Friday, Jan. 17.