Lady Bulldogs heating up with two more wins

Montana Western senior Roxanne Thurman of Bigfork hits a baseline cutter with a bounce pass during the Lady Bulldogs’ win over Dickinson State Saturday afternoon. J.P. Plutt photo

 

The Montana Western women’s basketball team swept their second weekend in a row, as they beat down Rocky Mountain College, 74-45, on Friday night and then came back from being down 9 points at the half to pull off a narrow 69-67 win over Dickinson State on Saturday for their fifth consecutive win.

With the win, the Lady Dawgs moved to 13-9 on the season overall, but more importantly, jumped to 7-5 in the Frontier Conference to put them in fourth place.

Western currently sits one game ahead of Carroll College and one game behind MSU Northern, who will make the trip into the Dawg Pound on Saturday night.

Despite scoring just 5 points and falling behind to the Bears in the first 10 minutes of the game on Friday night, Western rallied to score 69 in the final 30 minutes of play to cruise to the easy victory.

McCall Hasquet put together a tremendous game, scoring 16 points and pulling in 9 rebounds to lead her team on the night.

She was joined by Sammi Bignell, who also had a nice game,with 14 points and 7 rebounds, and by Roxy Thurman, who added 10 points and 5 assists to help her team seal the win.

Western again relied on their hard-nosed defense, as they held the Lady Bears to just 8 offensive rebounds on the night and outboarded the visiting team overall, 48-35.

The Lady Bulldogs gained a lot of momentum on defense, as time and again they forced turnovers and quickly transitioned to the other side of the court. Their defense helped the Lady Dawgs outscore Rocky by 26 points in the second half, maybe their best half of basketball on the season, as they scored 51 points in the game’s final 20 minutes.

Bailey Smith, Melody McCloud, Kelsey Callaghan, and Taylor Kanthack all saw good playing time and gave the Western fans a taste of what is to come for the Lady Dawgs, as the bench came alive to score 23 points.

The Lady Dawgs also continued their fine free throw shooting as they hit 70% to the Bears 37% in the landslide victory.

On Saturday, the team was back in the Straugh to face Dickinson State (13-14, 3-9). Western had beaten the Blue Hawks in North Dakota the Saturday before by 13, but this proved to be a different game, as Dickinson St. jumped out to an early 22-10 lead in the first 10 minutes of play.

Behind the strong shooting of Bignell, who finished with 22 on the night, and the ability of Jenna Banks (10 of 12 on free throws) to drive to the hole and knock down her shots from the stripe, Western climbed back to within 9 points at the intermission.

Bignell opened the second half with a steal and score and sparked her team to go on a 14-point swing and take the lead around the six-minute mark with a Stevie Humphries’ bucket.

But the Blue Hawks came to play and with just 5 minutes left on the clock the game was tied at 55, and after a Blue Hawks’ bucket sophomore Rosie O’Brien hit her third three of the game to provide Western with a small cushion coming down the stretch.

The Hawks would again square things up at 59 around the three-minute mark, but Banks sealed the win for her team by attacking the rim on three straight possessions and hitting her free throws to make it 67-61.

Mariah Duran brought her team right back though and after hitting a deep three to pull within three, the Blue Hawks were forced to foul Roxy Thurman, who knocked down some important free throws with 3.1 seconds left. These proved to be just as important as any points in the game because on its last possession Dickinson St. hit a half-court shot as the clock expired to cut Western’s margin of victory to 2 points.

The Bulldogs again saw quality minutes come out of their entire bench but it was O’Brien who hit three big shots at key times to help give her team the close win.

“We moved Roise up from our JV squad after Christmas and she got in for the first time at the end of the RMC game,” said Western Head Coach Lindsay Woolley.

“Then I put her in against DSU in the second half because we were having a hard time knocking down any perimeter shots. She is a kid who shoots the ball with a ton of confidence and has worked hard to try and contribute for us at the varsity level. She made a huge impact on Saturday. Without her, I’m not sure we get that win.”

Western shot 77% from the charity stripe and 40% overall in the exciting victory, but Coach Woolley still saw room for improvement.

“We didn’t play as well as we are capable of against DSU but made just enough shots in the second half to come from behind and win,” said the new father. “We can and need to be better on the defensive end this week.”

This week, Western will again host two games in the Straugh. Thursday night, third- placed MSU Northern will be in town for a 5:30 game on Military Appreciation Night. Any current or former military personnel will be admitted to both the Western women’s and men’s game at no charge. The game will also be a “blackout game,” so all fans are encouraged to wear black to the game.

On Saturday, Western will tip off at 5:30 p.m. against the University of Great Falls in this years “Pink Zone” game. All proceeds from the sales of the Pink Zone t-shirts will go to benefit the southwest Montana mammography program. The University will also recognize its male and female senior athletes in between games.

“Northern and UGF both present a very different type of challenge. Northern strength is on the interior and defensively they are very sound,” said Woolley.

“We are going to have to make some perimeter shots in order to have a chance. UGF plays up tempo and has the potential to hang a lot of points on the board. Both teams are very different in terms of preparation, so we need to have a couple great days of practice.”

 

Montana Western def Rocky Mountain 74-45

Montana Western Scoring (74 points): McCall Hasquet 16, Sammi Bignell 14, Roxy Thurman 10, Kelsey Callaghan 7, Jenna Banks 6, Melody McCloud 6, Bailey Smith 6, Kaci Matthies 5, Taylor Kanthack 2, Rosie O’Brien 2.

Three-Point Shooting (9-24): Hasquet 4-7, Bignell 2-4, Thurman 2-4, Callaghan 1-4.

Free Throw Shooting (17-24): Banks 6-8, Thurman 4-4, Bignell 2-6, Callaghan 2-2, O’Brien 2-2.

Rebounds (48): Hasquet 9, McCloud 8, Bignell 7, Matthies 6.

Assists (18): Thurman 5, Banks 3.

Steals (10): Banks 4, Hasquet 2.

Blocks (4): Thurman 3.

 

Montana Western def Dickinson State 69-67

Scoring (69 points): Bignell 22, Banks 12, O’Brien 9, Hasquet 7, Thurman 7, Matthies 4, Humphries 3, McCloud 3, Callaghan 2.

Three Point Shooting (7-25): Bignell 2-5, Hasquet 1-5, Thurman 1-5, O’Brien 3-5.

Free Throw Shooting (26-34): Banks 10-12, Matthies 4-4, McCloud 3-4, Bignell 2-4, Hasquet 2-2, Thurman 2-4, Callaghan 2-2.

Rebounds (38): Bignell 8, Matthies 7, Thurman 5, Banks 4, Hasquet 4.

Assists (13): Banks 3, Thurman 3, Callaghan 3.

Steals (13): Banks 3, Bignell 3, Kanthack 3.