(RMC Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The 12th-ranked Rocky Mountain College women’s basketball team went cold down the stretch and suffered a 50-42 loss to No. 15 Montana Western on Thursday night in the Fortin Education Center.
Rocky (21-6, 11-6 Frontier) went just 2 of 11 over the final 6:22 and was outscored 13-4. Montana Western (22-7, 12-5) trailed 32-24 with 1:45 to play in the third quarter before using a 10-0 run to take the lead with 8:11 to play.
Neither team found much success at the offensive end as they each shot below 30 percent on the night. The Battlin’ Bears ended the night at 28.6 percent and just 2 of 9 from beyond the arc. They allowed 46 rebounds while grabbing 39 after holding the Bulldogs to 29.1 percent shooting.
Mikayla Jones scored 13 points and had four steals to lead Rocky. Brooke Jones added 10 points and Markaela Francis had seven points and 11 rebounds.
Rocky recorded nine assists – four from Hailee Farstveet – and committed nine turnovers. Western turned it over 13 points. The Battlin’ Bears had a 24-18 edge in points in the paint while Western got 23 points off the bench.
Alexa Welch led the Bulldogs with 13 points. Britt Cooper had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The win means Rocky is locked into the No. 3 seed for the Frontier Conference Tournament and they will host No. 6-seed Montana Tech in the Fortin Center on February 28. The Battlin’ Bears can finish tied for second with a win on Saturday and a Montana Western loss at Carroll, but UMW holds the tiebreaker for tournament seeding.
Rocky will close the regular season on Saturday with a 5:30 p.m. game against Lewis-Clark State College.
Rocky’s men had three players score 20-plus points, but it was No. 10 Montana Western using the long ball late to rally for an 82-79 win.
Rocky (17-12, 8-9 Frontier) led 77-71 with 1:49 to play when things went the wrong direction. Montana Western (23-5, 13-4) got threes from Dom Robinson, Warrn Helligar, and Zaccheus Darko-Kelly on its next three possessions to take the 80-77 advantage.
Craig Wilmore would cap hit career night with an offensive rebound and put back to get Rocky within one with 11 seconds to play. After a pair of free throws from Brandon Jones for Western had the lead back to three, Wilmore’s attempt to tie at the buzzer hit off the back rim.
Rocky didn’t shoot it well all night, finishing the game at 39.2 percent. The Battlin’ Bears dominated on the glass with 25 offensive rebounds for 27 second chance points. Those offensive rebounds helped the team to a 51-37 advantage on the boards.
Jared Samuelson was dominant inside with 27 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the year. He had 11 offensive rebounds and added three blocked shots.
Wilmore finished the game with a career-high 24 points while grabbing 10 rebounds for his first double-double since December of 2016. He also had four assists.
Danny Betcher matched his career high of 20 points set in Rocky’s last game while getting eight rebounds and three blocks.
Montana Western shot 46.9 percent for the game and was 13 of 28 from beyond the arc. They took advantage of the seven Rocky turnovers with 12 points from those miscues.
Kooper Kidgell led five Bulldogs in double figures with 21 points.
Rocky now moves into a tie with MSU-Northern for the fourth spot in the Frontier standings ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale with Lewis-Clark State in the Fortin Center. Rocky can earn the No. 4 seed – and a home game against Northern in the quarterfinals – with a loss by the Lights at Montana Tech on Friday and then a Rocky win over LC State on Saturday. If Northern wins on Friday, they secure the fourth seed and lock Rocky into the No. 5 seed.