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Montana Tech men's national tournament run comes to an end against OUAZ

Montana Tech men's basketball
Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 15, 2023

BUTTE — One of the most successful seasons in Montana Tech men's basketball history came to a close on Wednesday against Ottawa University of Arizona.

The No. 7 Spirit led by just one point at halftime but held the lead for the entirety of the second half and outscored the fourth-seeded Orediggers by 17 points after the break en route to a 76-58 victory in the NAIA national tournament quarterfinals in Kansas City. The win sends OUAZ into the semifinals where the Spirt will face top-seeded College of Idaho on Friday.

The Orediggers, who were held to 5-of-26 shooting from 3-point range, conclude their deepest postseason run in program history at 29-5 overall after advancing to the final site for the first time and then pulling out a Round of 16 upset over top seed William Penn on Monday night.

Tech concluded conference play with a No. 10 ranking in the coaches' poll — it's highest in program history — and as back-to-back regular season and tournament champions, something that hadn't been done since the Kelvin Sampson Era.

Tech led the Spirit 25-19 with 3:19 remaining in the first half. OUAZ then retook the lead 30-27 off a 3-pointer from Devin Collins with 41 seconds left in the half. The Spirit didn't relinquish the lead after that.

The Orediggers shot 31.7 percent from the field compared to 46.8 for OUAZ, which connected on 8-of-22 shot from 3-point range.

Camdyn LaRance led Tech with a 16 point performance and Asa Williams turned in 15 points and seven rebounds. Chrishon Dixon added nine points and Bridger Larson had seven.

The Spirt were led by 20 points from Josiah De'laCerda, 17 from Kolten Hitt and 10 from Alex Villi.

The Orediggers — who were without Frontier Player of the Year Caleb Bellach for all but the first minute of its national tournament games — have no seniors on its roster and have the potential to return the entirety of its team next season.