(RMC Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The 12th-ranked Rocky Mountain College women’s basketball team enters the final two games of the regular season with a lot to play for. Rocky will open play on Thursday when they host No. 15 Montana Western. The Battlin’ Bears then welcome Lewis-Clark State to town on Saturday. Both games will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Fortin Education Center.
Live video and stats will be available for both games of the weekend. Links to the live features are available at GoBattlinBears.com/live.
A Rocky win on Thursday secures the No. 2 seed in the Frontier Conference Tournament and a home game in the first two rounds. The Battlin’ Bears could still tie for the regular season conference title with two wins and two losses by Carroll. If Rocky loses on Thursday, they would be locked into the No. 3 seed in the conference postseason.
Thursday night is Military Appreciation Night in the Fortin Center, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain College’s Student Veterans Club. The Battlin’ Bears will wear special jerseys that include the name of an RMC player and an honored fallen military member. Rocky will then honor its senior class during a presentation on Saturday.
With two games left in the regular season, Rocky holds a 21-5 overall record. They hit the 20-win mark for the first time in the 15 years of available records and the current .808 winning percentage is tied for 12th best in the NAIA this season.
At 11-5 in Frontier play, the Battlin’ Bears have secured a home game in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on February 28. They are guaranteed a top-3 finish in the league for the first time since the 2011-12 season and the first winning conference season since 2008-09.
With the move up three spots to No. 12 in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released on February 13, Rocky set a new school record for highest ranking for the third time this season. They received 138 points in the poll to move up in the rankings for the fourth consecutive poll.
Rocky is currently scoring 68.12 points per game and they are second in the Frontier by shooting 43.2 percent from the field. They make 6.65 threes per game by shooting a Frontier-best 34.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The Battlin’ Bears rank third in the NAIA in scoring defense by limiting opponents to 50.92 points per game. They are fifth nationally by allowing 24.9 percent shooting from 3-point territory and 13th by holding the opposition to 34.9 percent overall.
Mikayla Jones leads the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game. She has scored in double figures 18 times and she scored a career-high 30 points in the win over Montana Tech on February 10. Jones is second in the Frontier at 2.46 steals per game – 20th nationally – and her 64 total steals place her 18th in the NAIA.
Brooke Jones has scored in double figures 16 times and is second on the team in scoring at 10.6 points per game. She shoots 51.0 percent from the field and has 159 rebounds.
Hailee Farstveet is up to 9.3 points per game after scoring in double figures in the past 12 games. She leads the team with 97 assists and ranks 33rd in the NAIA at 3.73 assists per game. Farstveet has scored 812 points in her Rocky career and she has 1,138 career points in the NAIA when you add the 326 she scored for Dickinson State as a freshman.
With two games to play, Rocky’s men sit fourth in the Frontier Conference standings with an 8-8 record. They can still finish anywhere from third to fifth when the weekend is complete. If they can finish in the top-four, the Battlin’ Bears would host a quarterfinal game in the Frontier Conference Tournament on February 27.
Rocky currently sits with a 17-11 overall record as they look for the first 20-win season since the 2014-15 campaign. The team has guaranteed its sixth straight season with a winning record. They have gone 8-3 at home this season.
The Battlin’ Bears are currently scoring 81.54 points per game to rank fourth in the Frontier. The team shoots 47.2 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from beyond the arc. Rocky makes 7.61 threes per game while getting 17.29 assists per game. The team is sixth in the NAIA with 484 total assists and eighth with a 1.34 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Rocky opponents average 72.36 points per game and shoot 43.4 percent from the floor. Rocky is second in the Frontier by collecting 39.71 rebounds per game. The team averages 8.25 steals and 3.18 blocked shots per contest. Their 231 total steals ranks 14th in the country.
Jared Samuelson leads Rocky and is second in the Frontier in scoring at 18.56 points per game. That average is 28th in the NAIA while his 501 total points rank 21st. Samuelson is 21st in the nation by shooting 55.7 percent from the floor and 26th at 83.7 percent at the foul line.
Austin Payne is second on the team in scoring at 10.6 points per game. He has scored in double figures 12 times and has three games with at least 20 points. Payne shoots 49.6 percent and has 39 made 3-pointers at a 37.9 percent clip.
Chad Kananen averages 9.0 points per game and ranks fifth in the Frontier by making 2.36 threes per game. He shoots 40.2 percent from beyond the arc to account for 66 made triples that rank 41st in the country. He also ranks 47th in the NAIA with a 2.15 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Latrelle Franklin leads the teams and ranks 13th in the NAIA with 118 total assists. His 4.37 assists per game are 20th in the nation. He sits 16th nationally with 49 steals and 23rd at 1.82 steals per game.