DILLON — Considering the chaos of the past few months, Montana Western men's basketball coach Mike Larsen didn't mind that his team had some rust to shake off.
In the end, the Bulldogs got the win, though it certainly wasn't pretty.
Jamal Stephenson scored a game-high 17 points, Max Clark added 10 and the Bulldogs held off a sizable upset bid from Yellowstone Christian with a 66-56 victory on Wednesday evening at Straugh Gymnasium.
"I just think offensively, first game of the year, brand-new team, new stuff," Larsen said of his team's challenges to shut down the Centurions. "I just think we got to slow down, get better. But I'm proud of them."
Dillon graduate Michael Haverfield, now a redshirt freshman with Western, added 10 points for the Bulldogs and Colter Miller reeled in a game-high 14 rebounds while adding 7 points.
Western is now 8-0 against Yellowstone Christian, but maintaining that perfect record was anything but assured for much of the game.
The Centurions, led by 15 points from Christian Beeke and a double-double from Davonte King with 12 points and 10 rebounds, trailed just 29-28 at the end of a first half that could best be described as inconsistent. The two teams combined for 20 buckets on 63 attempts from the field.
In the second half, Western struggled to find much breathing room against YCC with the Bulldogs leading by just single digits for the majority of the half.
But Haverfield drained four free throws in the final minute to ice the game and allow the Bulldogs to open the season with a win.
Western now heads to Pocatello, Idaho, on Saturday to take on the Idaho State Bengals of the Big Sky Conference.
"We just got to crisp up certain things," Larsen said. "But a lot of positives from this game even though the score didn't necessarily indicate it."