Diggers outlast Saints in OT, win regular season conference championship
In a game that would see a lead of no larger than eight points throughout 40 minutes of regulation, it was missed free-throw opportunities by Montana Tech that would force an overtime period against Carroll College. And it was a shooting clinic from the foul line and beyond that the Orediggers would put on in overtime to seal an 87-78 Frontier Conference victory and the regular season conference title.
But it took some work to get there. After the third thunderous slam dunk of the evening by 6'7 guard Caleb Bellach resulted in a foul and successful trip to the free-throw line, the Orediggers were up 66-61 with 3:10 to play and seemed to have momentum in hand. But back-to-back buckets by Carroll forward Isaiah Moore cut the lead to one with 2:36 showing on the clock. Moore would foul Oredigger forward Hayden Diekhans on an inbounds play, but the Montana Tech freshman would miss the front end of a bonus situation. On the ensuing possession, the Orediggers' Michael Ure would be fouled on a defensive rebound, but he too would miss the front end. Asa Williams would get a steal on the Saints' next possession getting the outlet to Ure who would find a wide-open Crishon Dixon for a three pointer and a four-point Digger lead. And that's all they would get in regulation as Saints guard Johnny Hilman would slice through the Oredigger defense getting the bucket and a foul. Hillman's three-point play would knot the game at 69 and a three-point attempt by Montana Tech's Keeley Bake would fall off the mark and the game would go to overtime. And apparently that's when someone hit the switch on Asa Williams.
Williams simply exploded in the final 5:00 overtime scoring 11 of his 17 points by draining a pair of electrifying three-pointers and shooting a perfect 5 of 5 from the foul line. Montana Tech would double up Carroll 18-9 in the final frame and the victory coupled with the MSU-Northern loss gives the Orediggers the Frontier Conference regular season title. The Orediggers were led by Caleb Bellach who had 27 points and Crishon Dixon would join Bellach and Willilams in double figures with 11.
With the win, the 11th-ranked Orediggers improve to 22-5 including a 10-3 conference record and a perfect 15-0 mark at Kelvin Sampson Court on the season. The Orediggers home winning streak now stands at 27 games and will now stretch into the 2023-24 season. They will wrap up their regular season on the road with a game this Saturday at Providence and the following Saturday at MSU-Northern.