Montana Tech women outlasts MSU-Northern | Montana Tech

BUTTE – The Montana Tech Orediggers women’s basketball team hosted the MSU-Northern Skylights in Frontier Conference play on Thursday.

The Orediggers were able to hold off several Northern pushes to tie the game in the final moments, as Tech held on for a 64-57 win over the Skylights.

“I am so proud of their effort again,” Montana Tech head coach Jeff Graham said. “We didn’t get some bounces on loose balls and Northern kept coming and coming but we kept the lead.”

Both teams started the game with empty initial trips to the basket.

Tech vs. Northern

Tech’s Challis Westwater reaches for a rebound against Northern’s Shyan Krass on as the Orediggers took on MSU-Northern at home.

Briaunna McCullough scored the first basket for the Skylights that was answered moments later by a jumper by Tavia Rooney.

The Orediggers set an early tone with aggressive rebounding on both ends. They forced eight Northern turnovers in the opening ten minutes.

Tech vs. Northern

Tech’s Tavia Rooney drives to the hoop as Northern’s Rachel Van Blaricom up for a rebound as the Orediggers took on MSU-Northern.

Northern opened a four-point lead, before Rooney and McKayla Kloker knocked down baskets to put the Orediggers up, 9-8, with 4:45 to go in the opening quarter.

Aubrie Rademacher had two steals early, and a fast-break pass to Madison Allen who laid the ball off the glass and in. Rademacher called her own number with a layup to help Tech keep pace with Northern in the latter stages of the opening quarter.

Tech vs. Northern

Tech’s Ally Cleverly guards MSU-Northern’s Rachel Van Blaricom as the Orediggers took on the Skylights.

Sydney Hansen was able to pull in an offensive rebound on her knees and hit a buzzer-beating jumper to pull Northern to within a point after the first quarter, 18-16.

Soda Rice’s feed pass to Rademacher in the corner was launched from beyond the three-point stripe and in, which opened Tech’s lead to five 52 seconds into the second period.

The full-court press, aggressive rebounding, hitting the deck for loose balls, and constant rotations employed by Graham kept the Orediggers in close to the Skylights at every turn in the second quarter.

Tech vs. Northern

Tech’s Aubrie Rademacher is wide open as she goes up for a shot as the Orediggers took on MSU-Northern.

Challis Westwater, Ally Cleverly, and Dani Urick combined for a -0 run that covered 56 seconds, as Tech opened a ten-point lead, 31-20.

Shyan Krass interrupted the Tech run with a three-pointer, which Rice answered back with a three of her own 20 seconds later.

Tech vs. Northern

Tech’s Liv Wangerin guards MSU-Northern’s Briaunna McCullough as the Orediggers played the Skylights at home.

McCullough, Ryley Kehr and Rachel Van Blairicom combined for a 10-0 run to close the half. The Orediggers led by one point at the break, 33-32.

Tech shot 44.8% (13-of-29) from the field in the first half, which included 3-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 4-of-8 from the charity stripe.

Northern was 12-of-27 (44.4%) from the field, which included 2-of-7 from behind the three-point stripe and went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

McCullough gave the Skylights the lead 33 points into the second half on a baseline drive and lay-in.

Rooney fed a pass from the lane to Rice behind the left elbow of the arc. Rice launched a three-pointer that went straight through the net, as the Orediggers re-took the lead with 8:46 to play in the third quarter. They stretched the lead to eight points over the next 2:35.

Tech flipped the switch on the defensive pressure in the middle part of the third quarter, as they forced three turnovers that were turned in to points by Rooney.

Cleverly’s three-pointer from the right corner gave the Orediggers a ten-point lead.

Sydney Hansen’s three-point play and McCullough’s free-throw ended the third quarter, as Northern trailed the Orediggers going into the fourth, 51-45.

Northern chipped away at the margin, as Krass,Van Blaricom, and Jalen Callender combined for an 8-4 run over the first 3:50 of the final period to pull Northern to within two points.

The Skylights had a chance to tie the game with under four minutes to play. Northern missed a jumper, with Rooney pulling down the rebound to clinch a double-double. Urick started the fast-break, fed Rice breaking free down the floor, and she hit the layup to double Tech’s lead to four points with 3:37 to go.

Cleverly’s three-pointer and free-throw pushed Tech’s lead to seven inside the last two minutes, and the Orediggers were able to hold off the Skylights.

“We had some big stops at the end and Ally’s 3 was huge,” Graham said.

Tech shot 42.1% from the floor, which included a 6-of-18 performance from beyond the arc, and were 10-of-19 from the free-throw line. Although they were outrebounded 35-30, they had 16 assists, four blocks, and forced 15 turnovers.

Rooney led the Orediggers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rice had ten points and six rebounds, and Rademacher and Cleverly each had nine points.

Northern shot 34.4% from the field, which included 2-of-14 from behind the arc, and 13-of-18 from the charity stripe.

McCullough led all scorers with 22 points and eight rebounds for Northern.

“Soda did a heck of a job on McCullough,” Graham said.

Hansen chipped in nine points, and Krass had 13 boards for the Skylights.

Montana Tech (6-9, 2-3 Frontier) will travel to Dillon on Saturday for a 2 p.m. matchup against No. 12 Montana Western. This is the second matchup of the season between the teams, as the Bulldogs defeated the Orediggers on Dec. 3 in Dillon, 73-67.

MSU-Northern (7-11, 0-5 Frontier) travels to Helena on Saturday to play No. 18 Carroll College at 2 p.m. The Fighting Saints won the first game against the Skylights in Havre on Dec. 3, 68-49.

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