Digger-Dawg – Round 3
This is just one of those games that doesn’t need any kind of hype. Everyone just knows the intensity will be in the red for the entire 40(+) minutes. Montana Tech enters as the only Frontier school in the NAIA Top 25, sitting at #12 in the last two polls. The Diggs are tied with Providence for first place in the conference with a 7-3 record. All 3 of Tech’s losses in conference have come on the road, one in Havre, one in Helena, and one in Dillon. With the unbalanced schedule in the Frontier, the Diggs have already played Western twice at Straugh, and Thursday will be the Bulldog’s lone trip to Butte this year.
Western shoots the 3-ball a lot, and they shoot it well. They are #8 in the NAIA for the number of 3’s attempted each game- 28 per game.
They are #10 in the country for the number of 3’s made per game- 10.
Dillon’s Michael Haverfield shoots a staggering 54% from the arc this year, which leads the Frontier by a wide margin, and is good for #6 in the country.
Ky Kouba is #3 in the Frontier from downtown, shooting 45% for the Dogs.
Western is led in scoring by Jamal Stephenson at 14 points a game, Ky Kouba follows with 12, and Brenton Woods is in double figures with 11 points a game.
Montana Tech is led by Frontier Conference scoring leader, Caleb Bellach. Belly averages 19 points a game, and even more importantly 22 points a game in conference. He has scored at least 25 points in 6 of his last 10 games. Asa Williams is next for the Diggs averaging 14 points, and Michael Ure is getting 11 points. Freshman Hayden Diekhans’ numbers continue to rise, coming in at 9 points a game, and nearly 8 rebounds a game.
As a team, Montana Tech still leads the nation in (lack of) turnovers per game at 8, and they are among the defensive leaders in the country, holding teams under 40% from the field.
Round 1 of the Digger-Dawg went to the Dawgs in a 67-64 victory nearly two months ago. Jamal Stephenson led Western with 19 in that game, Kouba netted 14, and Michael Haverfield ended with 10. For the Diggs Asa Williams led the charge with 23 points and 7 rebounds, Caleb Bellach finished with 15, Michael Ure and Keeley Bake each had 8 points. The biggest discrepancy from the first game was rebounding. Western out-rebounded Tech 38-26 and 14 of those rebounds were Offensive.
Round 2 went the way of the Diggs. Down by 3 at the half Montana Tech came out in the second half and took over defensively, holding Western to 34% from the floor, and 31% from the arc. In that first game Western dominated the boards, this time Tech out-rebounded Western 38-31. Tech shot 51% in the win, led by Bellach with 19 and 11 rebounds, Michael Ure knocked down 17 and grabbed 8 rebounds, and Bridger Larson accounted for 13 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Every time these programs square off you have to prepare for significant fireworks, and Thursday will be no exception. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm at the Great Western HPER.