(RMC Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Rocky Mountain College men’s basketball team continues Frontier Conference Tournament play on Friday when they face No. 6 Carroll College in the semifinals. The game is Helena between the No. 1-seed Carroll and No. 5-seed Rocky Mountain will tip at 7 p.m. from the Carroll P.E. Center.
Complete game coverage, including links to live video and stats, is available at GoBattlinBears.com/mbbpostseason.
Rocky advanced to the semifinals with a 73-72 win over No. 4-seed MSU-Northern on Tuesday night in Havre. Jared Samuelson grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in with 0.5 seconds to play to give Rocky the road win. As the top seed in the tournament, Carroll earned a bye into the semifinals.
Friday’s other semifinal game has the No. 3-seed Lewis-Clark State traveling to Dillon to face No. 2-seed Montana Western. The two semifinal winners will play for the title on March 5 at the home of the highest remaining seed.
Rocky’s win on Tuesday improved the Battlin’ Bears to 13-12 in the conference tournament since 2004. It also snapped a three-game losing streak in road games during the tournament. Rocky and Carroll have met in the tournament just two times since 2004 with each team winning once. The last postseason meeting was a Carroll win in the 2016 semifinals. This season, Rocky dropped two of three with the Saints with the win coming on January 9 in Helena.
Rocky will enter Friday’s game with an 18-13 overall record. They earned the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament by posting an 8-10 record in conference play. The Battlin’ Bears snapped a three-game losing streak with the quarterfinal win and they are 9-5 in road games this season.
The Battlin’ Bears are scoring 80.6 points per game and shooting 46.7 percent from the field. They averages 7.4 made 3-pointers per game at a 34.0 percent clip. They are fifth in the NAIA with 523 assists and seventh with their 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Rocky opponents are scoring 73.2 points per game and shooting 44.0 percent. The Battlin’ Bears grab 39.68 rebounds per game and are 15th in the NAIA with their 5.87 total rebound margin. The team is 24th nationally at 7.87 steals per game and 33rd by getting 3.19 blocks per game.
Jared Samuelson leads Rocky and is second in the Frontier in scoring at 19.10 points per game. That average is 20th in the NAIA while his 573 total points rank 13th. His points total are the fifth-most by a Rocky player in a season since the 1993-94 season and he is 27 away from becoming just the third Battlin’ Bears player to score 600 in a season in that same timeframe. Samuelson is 21st in the nation by shooting 55.8 percent from the floor and 28th at 82.9 percent at the foul line.
Austin Payne is second on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game. He has scored in double figures 12 times and has three games with at least 20 points. Payne shoots 48.3 percent and has 39 made 3-pointers at a 36.1 percent clip.
Chad Kananen averages 8.4 points per game and ranks sixth in the Frontier by making 2.16 threes per game. He shoots 38.7 percent from beyond the arc to account for 67 made triples that rank 50th in the country. He also ranks 37th in the NAIA with a 2.21 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Latrelle Franklin leads the teams and ranks 14th in the NAIA with 126 total assists. His 4.20 assists per game are 21st in the nation. He sits 20th nationally with 52 steals and 25th at 1.73 steals per game.