BUTTE – The No. 12 Montana Tech Orediggers men’s basketball team hosted the MSU-Northern Lights to complete the first leg of Frontier Conference play on Thursday night.
Tech and Northern played 50 minutes of basketball, before the Orediggers scored six of the last seven points to outlast the Lights, 89-85.
Northern started hot with three-pointers by Zackry Martinez and CJ Nelson.
The teams were basket-for-baskets early on before Tech went on an 8-0 run over a 1:42 stretch.
Tech (16-2, 4-1 Frontier) got 12 early points from Caleb Bellach in the first 6:31, as the Orediggers led 17-10.
The Lights stayed close through the middle part of the first half, as Immanuel Anderson and Tanner McCliment hit baskets clipped the deficit to four.
Bridger Larson’s spin left and layup, and Keeley Bake’s three-point dagger highlighted Tech’s offense down the stretch, as the Orediggers led at the half, 47-37.
Tech shot 66.7% (18-of-27) in the first half, which included 5-of-10 from the three-point line, and 6-of-11 from the free-throw line.
The Lights shot 40.6% (13-of-32) from the field in the first 20 minutes, which included 7-of-16 from behind the arc. Northern (12-6, 1-4 Frontier) sank 4-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Tech led 56-42 with 13:03 before Northern went on a 25-8 run over the next 12 minutes to take a 67-64 lead.
The Orediggers tied game with three Michael Ure free throws.
Northern had the ball for a final shot with 14.3 to go in regulation and called timeout to set up the play. Reading the play, Tech ran a double screen up, which forced the Lights to take a second timeout. On the inbound, Nelson missed a turnaround jumper, which Ure pulled down and called timeout immediately.
Head coach Adam Hiatt called the play in the huddle, and Orediggers aligned for the inbound pass. Ure’s shot was after the buzzer and wide, to force overtime at 67-67.
Dae’Kwon Watson and Jess Keltner’s baskets the lone field goals in the first three minutes, as the Lights led 72-69.
Ure and Bellach combine for four points at the free-throw line to pull the Orediggers within a point inside two minutes to play in overtime.
Down two points, a turnover by Tech with 30 seconds gave Northern the ball back. Martinez’s fall away jumper gave Northern a four-point lead.
Chrishon Dixon’s layup with 21 seconds to go cut the Lights’ lead in half.
Martinez drew the charge on Dixon’s drive to the basket with 6.5 to play.
Faced with two free-throws, Nelson missed the first and hit the second to put the Lights up by three.
Dixon nailed a 35-footer at the horn for Tech to force a second overtime.
Keltner’s basket 18 seconds into the second extra period gave Northern the first lead of the session. Martinez’s free-throw increased the lead to three points.
Larson and Camdyn Larance hit layups, as the Orediggers clipped the margin to one point.
The action maintained a frenetic pace throughout the second overtime, the score tied at 83-83 with 1:11 to play.
After two Anderson free throws, Bellach hit a layup and a free-throw to give Tech an 86-85 lead with 56 seconds to go. Asa Williams hit two free throws to increase the lead to three points with 18.1 on the clock.
Nelson’s three-pointer with two seconds to play was partially blocked by Ballach, and Williams pulled down the rebound. Williams made free throw to wrap up the scoring.
Tech shot 47.1% from the field, including 6-of-22 from behind the arc, and 19-of-29 from the free-throw line.
Bellach led all scorers with 25 points, and Bridger Larson added 15. Williams chipped in 13 and Ure poured in 11.
The Lights shot 44.4% from the field, including 10-of-31 from behind the three-point line. Northern went 11-of-20 from the charity stripe.
Anderson scored 17 and Jesse Keltner added 15 for Northern.
Montana Tech will travel to Dillon on Saturday for a 4 p.m. matchup against Montana Western to start the second leg of Frontier Conference play. Saturday’s game is the second matchup of the season between the teams, as the Bulldogs defeated the Orediggers on Dec. 3 in Dillon, 67-64.
MSU-Northern travels to Helena on Saturday to play Carroll College at 2 p.m. The Fighting Saints won the first game against the Skylights in Havre on Dec. 3, 68-49.
Photos: Montana Tech Orediggers defeat MSU-Northern Lights in double overtime