(CASEY CONLON / MTN Sports)

(RMC Athletics release)

DILLON – The Rocky Mountain College men’s basketball team picked up its third win over a ranked opponent this month with an 85-75 win at No. 16 Montana Western on Saturday night at Straugh Gymnasium.

Rocky (12-7, 4-4 Frontier) responded to giving up 103 points to Montana Western (15-4, 5-3) two weeks ago in Billings by holding the Bulldogs to just 39.2 percent shooting – their lowest of the season – and their second fewest points in a game this season.

The Battlin’ Bears took a 42-39 lead into halftime after they used a 22-9 spurt in the period to build a 9-point cushion. Western went back in front 43-42 at 18:42 of the second half on a bucket from Kooper Kidgell.

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Jared Samuelson answered on the ensuing Rocky possession to spark a 10-1 run by the Battlin’ Bears. That had them leading by nine with 13:49 remaining. Chad Kananen hit a pair of threes on consecutive possessions to extend the Rocky lead to 10 and they never looked back.

Samuelson led all scorers with 24 points for his eight 20-point outing of the season. He made 10 of 16 shots and grabbed five rebounds in the win

Rocky shot 46.5 percent from the field and hit on 11 of their 26 shots from beyond the arc. That is the most 3-pointers in a game for the team in over a month. They tallied 34 points in the paint while adding 13 points from eight offensive rebounds.

Kananen finished with 16 points to reach double figures for the first time in nine games. He hit four 3-pointers and had five assists. Austin Payne added 14 points off the bench and Satchel McDonald had 11 points and six assists.

Along with Western’s 39.2 percent shooting, they were 10 of 33 from deep. The Bulldogs committed 12 turnovers which resulted in 20 points for the Battlin’ Bears.

Rocky finished with 25 assists on 33 baskets and they had 10 turnovers. That helped overcome the 48-42 deficit on the boards, including 16 offensive rebounds by the Bulldogs.

Kidgell led Western with 18 points and Branson Jones had 14 points and nine rebounds.

The Battlin’ Bears stay within two games of first-place in the Frontier Conference with the win. They are back on the road next weekend, beginning with a Friday game at Montana Tech at 7:30 p.m. in Butte.

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