HELENA – The Montana Tech Orediggers paid a visit to rival Carroll College on Saturday for the first meeting between both the men’s and women’s basketball teams this season.
The women’s game started off with the teams going basket-for-basket. Tech shot 52 percent from the field, while the Saints tore it up from beyond the arc, thanks to the hot hand of Danielle Wagner. The Havre High product knocked down four 3-pointers and had a game-high 22 points, while Christine Denny and Hannah Dean combined for 25 points and seven rebounds.
Kaylee Zard and Celestina Faletoi tried to contain Carroll’s size down low on both sides of the ball, but in the end Carroll’s constant full-court pressure, lethal shooting and size, combined with the fact the Orediggers turned the ball over 29 times, gave the eighth-ranked Saints a 65-49 win. Faletoi was the only Oredigger to reach double digits, scoring 10 points, while Zard collected a game-high 10 rebounds. She and Hailey Crawford scored nine points each in the loss.
Twenty minutes later the men tipped off and, much like the women’s game, was a tight battle throughout the first half as Carroll took a 31-24 lead into halftime. Second-half play started and the old feel of a Tech-Carroll rivalry started to consume the gym as Nate Ward and a flock of Saints got into a small skirmish that resulted in three technical fouls and one flagrant foul. Surprisingly no one was ejected and the teams went back and forth the remainder of the second half.
Helena native Taylor England, along with Ward, kept the Diggers in the game as long as they could. But the Saints had impressive play from Dane Warp, Match Burnham and Matt Wyman to complete the sweep of Montana Tech winning by a final of 76-68.
Warp scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Wyman added 20 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Burnham and senior guard Ife Kalejaiye totaled 23 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
England, a Helena High product, had 16 points and 12 rebounds and was the only Montana Tech player to reach double digits in either category. Ward, Dylan Pannabecker and Troy Owens Jr. scored nine points each in the loss.
Carroll continues Frontier Conference play on Thursday, Jan. 3 at Rocky Mountain College, while the Orediggers will host the Battlin’ Bears on Saturday, Jan. 5 in Butte.