After the Saints took center stage last week as the Frontier Conference wrapped up league play for the time being, other parts of the conference are back in nonconference action.
Here’s a look at some of this week’s games played by men’s and women’s Frontier teams.
The first matchup this week features Montana State-Northern (7-0, 2-0 Frontier Conference) hosting Nueta Hidatsa, a Native American college out of New Town, North Dakota. Northern has a 7-0 record and has been idle since claiming a 66-62 overtime win at Lewis-Clark State College on Dec. 3. Northern currently claims the top marks in 3-pointers made (13), points allowed (56) and scoring margin (43). Those numbers are inflated from the Lights beating up weaker programs like Oak Hills Christian, Shepherd University, New Hope Christian and Salish Kootenai College. In two Frontier Conference games, Northern averages 71 points per game and gives up 62. Northern is paced by David Straughter (11.4 ppg), Ryan Reeves (10.7) and Justin Dunsmore (10.3).
Montana Tech (6-5, 0-2) is in action this week as the Orediggers travel to Pocatello, Idaho, to take on Idaho State University. Tech has taken a few lumps in its first two conference games, falling 76-62 to MSU-Northern and then losing a few nights later to the University of Great Falls, 61-60. Both were home contests. Tech checks in with a 6-5 record this week but will have its hands full with ISU. The Big Sky Conference foe is only 2-8, but is arguably the strongest team the Orediggers will have faced this season. Tech will need strong performances from its best scorers, Chris O’Neill (11.2 ppg) and John Chapman (11.1). For a team that went 8-22 last season, a win over the Bengals would signal the turnaround coach Patrick O’Herron has been looking for.
The No. 6 Saints (8-1, 1-1) get a rematch with University of Lethbridge on Saturday. The Saints pummeled the Pronghorns 93-67 during their Oct. 29 meeting. In that game, the Saints had five players reach double figures and used a 36-9 third quarter to effectively close out the game. Since then, the Pronghorns have gone 6-4. The Saints enter the weekend after suffering a head-scratching loss to No. 17 University of Montana-Western. Western at one point trailed by 23 points before parading to the free throw line in the second half as the Saints melted down. Saturday will determine if the Saints have corrected their issues and can continue to improve during the nonconference holiday slate. The Saints are currently led by Ryan Imhoff’s 17.6 points per game, with Zach Taylor 16.4 and Match Burnham’s 13.4 close behind.
This week features a pair of Sunday contests, with Rocky Mountain traveling to Hope International of Fullerton, California, and Lewis-Clark State hosting Portland Bible.
Rocky Mountain (4-5, 0-2) should get a strong challenge out of Hope International (6-1) when they travel down to California this weekend. The Royals are ranked No. 1 in offensive rebounds (16 per game), assist/turnover ration (2), total rebound margin (21) and field goal percentage defense (34 percent). Rocky will try to contain Liam Hunt’s 16.4 points per game. The Battlin’ Bears, meanwhile, have lost their last four, dropping games to College of Idaho, Eastern Oregon, Carroll and Western. Rocky has four scorers averaging over 10 points per game, led by Riley Bradshaw’s 16.4 points.
Lewis-Clark State (9-3, 1-1) hosts Portland Bible in one of two nonconference games until the Warriors resume league play against Montana Tech on Dec. 31. Lewis-Clark State enters the game after being stunned by MSU-Northern, 66-62, in overtime on Dec. 3. Doug McDaniel is averaging 18.8 points per game for the Warriors. Anthony Sullen’s 13.2 points per game is the only other mark in double-figures.
No. 17 Western and Great Falls do not play this week.
On the women’s side, No. 11 MSU-Northern women’s team (8-2, 1-1) also hosts Nueta Hidatsa on Thursday. Northern took a big loss to No. 2 Lewis-Clark State, 67-42, on the road on Dec. 3. Northern’s only two losses this season have come against the top two ranked teams in the nation. Northern is led by Natalee Faupel’s 17.5 points and 7 rebounds per game. Jacy Thompson also averages 11.4 points per game. Northern gets a second game this week against Pacific University (3-3) on Saturday.
Prior to that Saturday contest, the No. 14-ranked University of Great Falls (9-2, 0-2) will take on Pacific. Great Falls has a pair of losses as it takes a break from conference games. The Argos dropped a game to Lewis-Clark State, 99-74, and another to Montana Tech, 75-68, both road games. Great Falls started the season 9-0, but is searching for its 10th win now after the two-game losing streak. Stephanie McDonagh leads the Argos in scoring with 15.5 points per game. She is trailed by Nneka Nnadi’s 12.5 points per game. McDonagh also leads the game in rebounding at about 7 per game, while Nnadi nabs 2.27 steals per game.
Montana Tech (7-6, 1-1) travels to Pocatello on Friday to face Idaho State (4-5). Tech earned a 75-68 win over Great Falls on Dec. 3, which had broken a three-game losing streak for the Orediggers. Tech resumes conference play on Dec. 31 at Lewis-Clark State. Tech has a trio of scorers averaging over 10 points per game: Martha Dembek (16.4 ppg), Monica Landdeck (13.8) and Hattie Thatcher (11.8).
No. 2 Lewis-Clark State (13-0, 2-0) travels to Whitworth (3-4) for just a single nonconference game before jumping back into league games on Dec 31. The Warriors currently lead the nation in total assists (26), assists per game (20), assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and scoring margin (33.4). Lewis-Clark State opened up Frontier play with powerful wins over Great Falls, 99-74, and Montana-State Northern, 67-42. The Warriors use four scorers who are averaging over 10 points per game. Brittany Tackett leads the way with 13.5 points per game, trailed closely by Caelyn Orlandi’s 13.3.