Records rarely matter when the University of Montana Western Bulldogs and Montana Tech Orediggers meet up to contest for the Digger-Dawg Cup, but the always-anticipated matchup between the I-15 rivals carried a bit more weight tonight as the teams were each seeking to end a lengthy losing streak. The Bulldogs came out hot and held off the Diggers down the stretch to secure the 76-71 win. (read more)
The women’s basketball team of Montana Western turned up the offensive output, but Lewis-Clark State College proved to be too much too handle as the Bulldogs fell 69-77 in Frontier Conference action. (read more)
The Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame will recognize the University of Montana Western at its annual awards banquet Jan. 31 in Billings, Mont. (read more)
As has been the case for most of Coach Steve Keller’s eight year tenure, the University of Montana Western men’s basketball team trekked north to find the MSU-Northern Lights ready to play the spoiler. The Bulldogs suffered their first conference light and saw their 13 game win streak end in a 68-56 loss to the Lights. (read more)
Bulldogs bury Diggers
Montana Tech opened with a 7-1 run to take command of the first half while shooting 56 percent from the floor and behind the arc. Montana Western kept the game close with nine points by junior Connor Woodill and eight from senior Jordan Overstreet. Tech built a nine point lead with just five minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs answered and clawed back cut the margin to four before an Oredigger half court shot as time in the half expired.
In the second half the Diggers continued to hold a slim lead until junior Tim Lott buried a three to give the Bulldogs the 61-59 advantage with just under 12 minutes to play. The Bulldogs stretched the lead to nine before committing offensive fouls on three straight possessions and giving up a three point play which brought Tech back within five. In the closing minutes senior Stephen McCall took control of the game, ending with 10 assists and 21 points after scoring just six in the first half.
“We played a great second half and just kept getting stops,” Bulldog head coach Steve Keller said. “In the first half Snow and Greger really hurt us, but we held them in the second half.” The second half defensive effort limited Tech to a .29 shooting percentage. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half and notched 18 assists on the night. Junior Dexter Williams Jr. contributed 15 points and 9 rebounds, seven on the offensive boards.
“It took a team effort to overcome diversity tonight,” Keller said. “Stephen McCall had a great night and Connor Woodill and Tim Lott gave us great points off the bench.”
A big night for closely contested upsets in the Frontier Conference allowed the Bulldogs to move back into first place in the standings as the first half of the schedule wrapped up. Montana Western takes to the road next week, visiting Carroll College and Rocky Mountain College.
Bulldogs earn first Frontier Conference win
The teams entered the game in similar situations, both playing competitively in a Frontier Conference featuring five ranked teams, but still seeking a win. The Bulldogs took the first lead of the game on a slashing layup by junior guard Sierra Higheagle, but the Orediggers answered and held the lead until 16:20 mark. Montana Tech kept themselves in the contest with nine offensive boards in the opening period, helping to make up for a .29 shooting percentage. The Bulldog offense moved the ball well, recording ten assists, five by senior point guard Jenna Banks. The score was tied seven times before the Bulldogs began to pull away to establish a 10-point margin at the half.
In the second half Montana Western built a 19-point lead, but Montana Tech turned up the heat down the stretch to make things interesting. “In the last two minutes Tech found a way to knock down threes, while we struggled a bit from the line,” Bulldog head coach Lindsay Woolley said. “Other than that I thought we executed well.”
Sophomore Kaye Bignell lead all scorers with 19 points and Higheagle finished with 16. Banks scored 14 points and tallied six assists. “Kaye got great position in the paint, and I was pleased with 18 team assists on just 14 turnovers,” Woolley said.
The Bulldogs begin the second half of the Frontier Conference season next week with road games at Carroll College and Rocky Mountain College.
Team effort lifts Bulldogs over Warriors
A slow shooting start by the Bulldogs allowed the Warriors to jump out to 10-point lead nine minutes into the first half. Montana Western senior guard Kris Castro then took matters into his own hands with two quick steals, four assists and eight first half points. Junior Dexter Williams Jr. also caught fire, finishing the period with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. The Bulldogs pushed their lead to nine points, then went into halftime up 42-35.
Lewis-Clark State opened the second half quickly, closing the gap to four points less than two minutes into the period. The Bulldogs turned up the defense and collected seven steals in the second half, turning the tide on the visitors with a series of fast break layups and a few crowd rousing dunks. The aggressive play of the Bulldogs led to opportunities from the free throw line down the stretch. Montana Western connected on 24 of 35 free throws, led by senior Stephen McCall’s 5-5 efficiency from the line in the closing minutes. McCall finished the game with 13 points and 10 boards. Williams Jr. led all scorers with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Bulldogs head coach Steve Keller was pleased with his team’s intensity. “That was a great team effort, to have five guys in double figures and 19 assists to just nine turnovers was key,” Keller said. “Dexter continues to be solid and Kris Castro had the best all around game of his career.”
The Bulldogs will host the Montana Tech Saturday night in Straugh gymnasium looking to make a move back to the top of the conference standings and take the series lead against the rival Orediggers.
Bulldogs continue to look for first conference winIn the first half the Warriors shot over 50 percent from the field, but the Bulldogs matched their effort, starting out strong then trading leads for most of the period. Montana Western relied on the inside play of senior Kaci Matthies, who scored nine points in the first half, and slashing style of sophomore Kaye Bignell who netted eight. The Bulldogs held the lead five times in the period, but Lewis-Clark State made a run behind Caelyn Orlandi’s 11 first half points to build a 37-28 advantage at the break.
In the second half the Warriors continued to shoot at a blistering 59 percent and built a 17-point lead after nine minutes. “They shot the ball incredibly well,” said Bulldog head coach Lindsay Woolley. “Any time you let an opponent go 13-23 from three, it is probably going to be a long night.”
The Bulldogs refused to quit, going back inside to Matthies who finished the contest with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Bignell continued to prove a tough matchup for the Warriors as she led all scorers with 20 points. Senior point guard Jenna Banks relentlessly drove into the oversized Warrior defense on her way to 10 points and five assists. Freshman guard Callie Kanthack played 12 minutes in the period, providing the Montana Western press with a dose of speed and tallying five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
“I thought we competed well, Kaci, Kaye and Jenna played well and Callie gave us a good effort off the bench, you just can’t give up 77 points and win” Woolley said.
Montana Western returns to Straugh Gymnasium Saturday night to face their rivals Montana Tech in the last opportunity for a win before beginning the second half of the conference season.
Bulldog women add Utah basketball standout
Last season, Bookout was selected her basketball team’s captain and was recognized as an all-state performer. Bookout averaged 14 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block per game as a junior. This summer Bookout’s team claimed a national championship at the AAU USA Jam On It Tournament.
“Brandy brings good size and athleticism to our perimeter group. She attacks the rim well in transition and is a capable perimeter shooter,” Woolley said. “Brandy is an extremely hard worker and we think she has a bright future in the Bulldog family.”
As a track and field athlete, Bookout was a member of two relay teams that medaled at the Utah state meet. She has also competed in varsity swim and dive and has earned honor roll recognition for her work in the classroom. Bookout is the daughter of Mike and Laura Bookout and plans to pursue a degree in Business Administration at Montana Western.
Montana Western rodeo to be honored by Montana Pro Rodeo
Montana Western and Montana State University will be featured for their continued success within the Big Sky Region and nationally. Coach Iola “Olie” Else will be recognized at the event and will be accompanied by a number of Bulldog rodeo national champions. Montana Western rodeo has produced 11 national champions and in 2004 Else was recognized as National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Coach of the Year. Additionally, two Montana Western rodeo athletes have served as student president of the NIRA.
"It's a great honor for the Montana Western rodeo program to be honored by the Montana Pro Rodeo," said Else. "We have had many of our athletes go one to be national champions and we have more individual colllege champions than many of the rodeo programs in the state. We are a program that has seen a lot of success."
Else will be joined by some of her current rodeo student-athletes at the event in Billings. These students are ready to share the honor and the successes of the UMW rodeo program.
"To me, it is going to be great to recognized along with the people I have looked up to as a kid and during my rodeo career," said UMW rodeo athlete Doug Hall. "Some of the guys the Montana Pro Rodeo has honored are guys who kids dream of being like. It's going to be awesome to be among those people."
The annual awards slate will feature a number of honorees with Montana Western ties. The Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to the family of the late Benny Reynolds, of Twin Bridges, Mont., who won 1958 Rookie of the Year and 1961 All-Around buckles from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Reynold’s daughter Jenny Peterson competed in volleyball and basketball at Montana Western and her husband Jesse Peterson won a steer wrestling national championship for the Bulldogs.
Shawn Davis, a Montana Western graduate and Butte, Mont. native, will be recognized with a Legend award. As a collegian Davis was a three time national champion with wins in saddle bronc, bareback and all-around. After graduating, Davis won three saddle bronc world championships, and has served as manager of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo since 1986.
The Garrison Family of Glen, Mont. will receive Western Heritage recognition during the ceremony. Tim Garrison won the 1989 steer wrestling national championship for Montana Western, where he competed alongside his brothers Jim and Todd. Todd his wife Latresha, also an alum, are parents of current Bulldog rodeo athlete Holden Garrison.
Montana Western volleyball inks Belgrade hitter
As an outside hitter at Belgrade High School, McCree lead the conference in kills with 281 while hitting .326 for the season. McCree contributed from the back row as well, recording 191 digs and 31 aces as Belgrade claimed the 2014 Montana Class A state title. She was named first team all-conference and earned team MVP honors as a senior.
During the 2013 season, McCree earned all-state honors and a state championship playing at Firth High School in Idaho.
"Like a lot of the other players in the incoming class, Kylie has championship experience that has prepared her well to compete at the college level,” coach Griffiths said.
McCree, the daughter of Heidi and Jason McCree, will major in elementary education at Montana Western. An academic all-state and honor roll student, McCree has maintained a 3.5 GPA.
"Kylie is the type of person, student and athlete that we want to add to the Bulldog family. She is a hard worker, a talented outside hitter, and a good student. She will fit in well and help fill the spots left by our senior class,” Griffiths said.
“I chose Montana Western because it offers the academic programs I want, and I found the coaching staff and team to be supportive and very friendly,” said McCree of her decision.
Bulldogs fall to Argos on the roadThe Bulldogs’ Quinn Smith scored the first six points for Montana Western as it built an eight point lead in the game’s opening minutes. The Argos chipped away at the lead earning a tie halfway through the period. Great Falls built a seven point lead but the Bulldogs knotted the game at 41 as the first period ended.
In the second half the Argos used accurate shooting and strong rebounding to build a 15 point lead with 10 minutes remaining. The Bulldogs then began to chip away at the game, putting themselves within striking distance in the closing minutes. Senior guard Stephen McCall hit back to back three point baskets to cut the lead to two points with 15 seconds remaining, but his third attempt fell short and the Argos hit free throws to close out the win.
Junior Dexter Williams Jr. lead the Bulldogs with 18 points and eight rebounds. McCall also had 18 points in the game, and Smith finished with 13. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 23-33 and could do little to combat the Argo's 42.86 percent accuracy from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs fall to 3-2 in the Frontier Conference, but return to Straugh Gymnasium where they are undefeated this season for home games against Lewis-Clark State and Montana Tech next week.
Bulldogs see early lead slip away against Argos
Both teams entered the game looking to bounce back from losses to top 10 ranked teams on Friday night, Montana Western to MSU-Northern and Great Falls to Westminster. In the first half the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick lead behind a balanced offensive attack. The Argos battled back and claimed a six point lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs started quickly again in the second half and drew within one point of the Argos two minutes into the period. Jenna Banks and Sierra Higheagle continued to pace the Bulldogs finishing with 17 and 16 points respectively. The Argos were able to withstand the charge and pulled away a number of times in the period behind the 20 points of Lindsay Abramson. The Bulldogs continued to battle and closed the gap a few more times, but the Argos were able to extend the lead to eight to end the game. Statistics were nearly identical with Montana Western holding an edge in field goal percentage, rebounds and points in the paint. The difference for the Argos proved to be free throw shooting, second chance points and turnovers.
The Bulldogs, now 0-5 in conference, return to Straugh Gymnasium next week for home games against Lewis-Clark State and Montana Tech.
Bulldogs' streak ends at MSU-Northern
The Bulldogs entered the contest 3-0 in the Frontier Conference while the Lights were 0-4, but the history between these teams suggested that the win was anything but guaranteed to Montana Western. The first half started as a battle between the teams in which the stats were nearly identical except for shooting percentage. Northern shot 57 percent from beyond the arc to knock down eight treys and went 7-7 from the stripe to build a 13-point lead at the intermission. Montana Western was slowed by a 29 percent effort from the floor and 75 percent accuracy from the free throw line in the first period.
The Bulldogs roared back into the game with a 10-0 run to start the second half, but could get no closer as Northern drained back-to-back threes and never looked back. The Lights’ offensive efficiency continued in the second period as Northern shot 44.2 percent in the game, added five more three point baskets, and didn’t miss a free throw until less than two minutes remained, finishing 17-18 from the stripe. Montana Western managed just 26.7 percent shooting from long range, 42.9 percent from the floor, and 55.6 percent from the line. Just two Bulldogs contributed double digits points, Dexter Williams, Jr with 19 and Stephen McCall with 15.
The Bulldog road trip concludes Saturday with a stop at the University of Great Falls where the teams will battle for the lead in the Frontier Conference.