Courtesy: University of Great Falls Sports Information
A tough weekend continued for (18) Lady Argo basketball, losing 75-68 to Montana Tech. The loss was the second straight for UGF in the first two games of Frontier Conference play after the team went 9-0 to start the season.
The two losses come directly after the Lady Argos traveled all the way to Tennessee to play in the biggest nonconference tournament in the nation. UGF won two games against two ranked teams, but may have fallen into a bit of a layoff after returning to Montana.
“I was worried about this weekend. We had a little bit of a letdown after Jackson, Tenn., I thought,” UGF Head Coach Bill Himmelberg said. “I didn’t think we had a very good week of practice and the result was two losses.”
UGF’s lack of focus was evident in the first quarter. The Lady Argos turned it over 9 times in the first ten minutes and let the Orediggers shoot over 50 percent from the floor, leading to a 9-point deficit.
Senior Nneka Nnadi, the Lady Argos second leading scorer, picked two fouls in the first two minutes of the quarter, and sat on the bench for the next twelve minutes.
Things tightened up in the second quarter on both ends for UGF. Cutting both turnovers and Tech’s shooting percentage in half, helped halve the Oredigger’s lead. The Lady Argos held Tech to just 10 points in the second quarter and went into the half down by just 4.
With Nnadi back on the floor and out of foul trouble, the Lady Argos had their best offensive quarter of the game in the third. Nnadi scored 7 points in those 10 minutes, and senior center Whitney George scored 6. A bucket from senior guard Darah Huertas-Vining with 1:06 left in the quarter gave UGF its first lead of the night at 54-53, but it was quickly taken back by Tech’s Monica Landdeck who had a monster game.
Landdeck led all scorers with 29 points, a result of UGF’s strategy of taking away her teammates Hattie Thatcher and Martha Dembek. The strategy worked on those two players, who combined for 17 points and shot just 5-15 from the field.
Landdeck only scored four of those 29 points in the fourth quarter, but they came in big moments, once again taking the lead back from UGF at the 5:42 mark and then scoring again to put Tech up by three.
That lead would prove too much to overcome as Tech got a few big offensive rebounds and hit just enough free throws to hang on to the lead down the stretch.
Five of Nneka Nnadi’s team leading 16 points came in the fourth quarter, which accounted for over a third of the team’s points in the final ten minutes. Her and George’s efforts were two of the major factors in the Lady Argos taking their fleeting lead in the middle of the second half.
George finished the game with 13 points, a season high, along with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
“She’s just being more and more aggressive going to the basket, and we’re putting the ball into the post a lot better than we have been,” Himmelberg said. “I’m particularly pleased with how well Whitney did going to the basket.”
Thanks in large part to George and Nnadi, UGF outscored Tech 48-36 inside the paint. Also contributing to that was junior Kallee Wilson, who scored 11 points off the bench.
The loss drops the Lady Argos to 9-2 (0-2), but the team will gladly return to nonconference play until the turn of the new year. Next for UGF will be a road exhibition game against Montana State University – Billings on December 10 at 5 p.m.
Jarred Burr only scored three points, but without that one shot, the University of Great Falls would've lost to Montana Tech. Burr hit a buzzer beater from 3-point range to put UGF ahead of the Orediggers 61-60.
Three straight 3-pointers from junior Jared Schultz in the final three minutes got UGF close. His final three with 38.7 seconds left pulled the Argos within two, but UGF would need a stop to get a game tying or winning bucket.
UGF tried to force a turnover with a full court press, but the Orediggers successfully broke it and got into the half court. With about a 4 second differential between the play clock and the shot clock, UGF decided not to foul, but instead hope for a missed shot and a rebound.
That looked unlikely when Tech’s Chris O’Neill successfully drove the lane and dumped a pass to a cutting Flemming Okeke for what looked like an easy layup that would’ve sealed the game. That’s when Burr made his first clutch play. The sophomore guard left his man at the 3-point arch and streaked in to strip the ball from Okeke, and coming away with it with 12 second left on the clock.
“We had already talked in the timeout before that we weren’t going to call a timeout, that we were going to push it and try to get a trail guy open for the win,” UGF Head Coach Anthony Owens said.
Burr followed those instructions and found the perfect man trailing behind him for the shot, the red-hot Schultz.
“I knew Jared had just hit 2 or 3 threes, so I saw him trailing me and I thought his was good,” Burr said of the final play.
The only problem was, Schultz shot wasn’t good.
“We all crashed the boards, and I knew we needed the ball. I saw Treyvon (Bashir) got the rebound and I just scooted back and knew it was coming to me,” Burr said. “I just shot it like I do when I shoot on the gun in the gym.”
The shot went down. The buzzer sounded. The bench erupted. The Argos won.
Not only did the shot give UGF a 61-60 advantage in the final score, but the resulting win helped UGF turn what could’ve been a rough opening weekend of Frontier Conference play into overall positive. The game was the second of the conference season, and the first was a loss to Lewis-Clark State College two days earlier.
“Any time you take one of those conference road trips if you can at least get a split, it’s nice. We wanted to come out with two, but road wins in league play is huge,” Owens said. “The split keeps us in the mix and it’ll help us in the long run.”
Overall, the game was a tale of two halves. The first was a defensive battle with both teams making about a third of their shots and each only hitting on two 3-point field goals. It was a different story in the second half.
Over the course of the final 20 minutes, UGF hit on exactly 50 percent of its shots, but the Orediggers were even better, shooting 56 percent. Most of Tech’s points came by way of drives, post play, and free throws, accounting for a 38-28 advantage in the paint. UGF’s offense on the other hand, relied largely on turnovers and long range shooting.
The Argos scored 18 points off turnovers and 9 points on fastbreaks, to Tech’s 11 and 4. UGF also made 8-13 shots from three in the second half.
Outside of one free throw from junior Tymarieh Dixon, all of UGF’s 19 final points came off 3-pointers, with UGF connecting on 6 of them to close the game. In order, one of them came from junior Sergio Berkley, another from senior Isaac Howard, then came Shultz three, and then final Burr’s game winner.
Outside of the Jarred and Jared show in the final few minutes, it was Howard and Berkley that led UGF offensively. Howard finished with a team leading 12 points, while Berkley scored 10 off the bench. Dixon and senior center Andrej Slavik each scored 8 points and the two combined to account for 12 of UGF’s 30 total rebounds.
Schultz finished the game with 11 points and led the team with 4 assists. Burr scored just those three crucial points, but also contributed 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 13 minutes on the floor.
UGF record now goes to 7-2 (1-1) on the year. Next up for the Argos are three straight road exhibition games against NCAA Division I opponents, starting with a December 6 match up against Utah State University at 7 p.m.