BILLINGS – The Rocky Mountain College men’s basketball team pulled out an important 76-73 win over Providence on Saturday night in Frontier Conference play at the Fortin Education Center.
Rocky (14-9, 6-6 Frontier) made enough plays down the stretch to pull a win from a game that featured 10 ties and 21 lead changes. Neither team led by more than six the entire night and it was within five until the final minute of the second half.
The Battlin’ Bears trailed 62-60 with 5:34 remaining, but came back with a 9-1 run over the next 4:24 of action to hit the largest lead of the game. Craig Wilmore started the streak with a 3-pointer from the corner, and then two possessions later, Collin May hit from deep. Jared Samuelson capped the scoring burst with a bucket and free throw to cap his 24-point night.
Providence (10-12, 4-8) wouldn’t go away in the final minute as threes from DaShaun Rice and Jared Schuktz kept the Argos within two. The Battlin’ Bears converted three of their four attempts at the foul line in the final seconds before a full-court heave as time expired from Rice came up short.
Rocky used 52.8 percent shooting – the highest by the team since December 1 – to get the victory. They scored 36 points in the paint and had 19 assists on 28 baskets. The Battlin’ Bears held a 31-23 edge in rebounds to overcome 13 turnovers.
Samuelson’s 24 points led all scorers and it was the 11th times this season – and second straight game – where he had at least 20. He would also tie for the team lead with seven rebounds and added a team-best three steals.
While no other Rocky players scored in double figures, five players finished with 8-plus points. Wilmore scored nine points with seven assists. Colin May had eight points, two assists and two steals in his first start.
Providence finished the game shooting 51.9 percent from the field. That helped Rocky snap a 21-game losing streak when their opponent shoots 50 percent or better. They Argos added 8 of 16 shooting from beyond the arc with 17 assists and 10 turnovers.
Rice led four Providence plyers in double figures with 17 points.
Rocky now sits in a tie with MSU-Northern for fourth-place in the Frontier Conference standings with six games to play. They are two games off the lead held by Carroll and Montana Western and one game behind Lewis-Clark State.
The Battlin’ Bears will step out of conference play on Monday when they host Yellowstone Christian College in the Fortin Center at 7 p.m. That game is being played in place of the San Diego Christian game that was cancelled during the Green & Gold Classic on December 29.