HELENA – Montana Tech stayed tough until the final few seconds, but huge shots late from No. 14 Carroll College men's basketball team allowed the Saints to retake the lead and hold on for a 65-60 Frontier Conference win on Wednesday in the PE Center.
The win game Carson Cunningham his 100th career win.'
“I was impressed by our fellas’ ability to stay composed and execute down the stretch,” Saints coach Carson Cunningham said. “Gotta tip the proverbial cap to Montana Tech – they are a very difficult team to deal with.”
The Saints (21-4, 9-4) went to their all-American late in the game, needing offense to overcome a second half that saw the Orediggers mostly leading. Ryan Imhoff spun toward the baseline to beat a double team, finishing a difficult reverse layup to get the Saints within one.
Tech (11-13, 3-10) went to its all-conference workhouse on the next possession, and Chris O’Neill zipped into the lane and found himself wide open on a difficult lay-up attempt. He missed.
Carroll once again fed Imhoff on the other end, and the senior tried to power through contact, missing a tough shot and not receiving a foul call. The ball fell over the other side of the rim, and Alex Santos Piqueras swooped in untouched for a free put-back layup.
After trailing the majority of the second half, the Saints had a 61-60 lead.
"They limit possessions; it’s a lower tempo game," Imhoff said. "They’re very physical. They pressure lot. It kind of takes us out of our stuff sometimes, It makes it difficult to run what we want and assert our will."
O’Neill had his number called again, looking to resurrect the Orediggers lead. O’Neill gathered and shot a drifting three-pointer. It rimmed out.
Tech fouled Santos after a Carroll rebound, and the redshirt junior calmly sunk two bonus free throws.
The Saints had a three-point lead with 20 seconds to go.
O’Neill attacked the rim again and got another good look at a lay-up. Once again, his touch betrayed him and the shot didn’t fall.
It sealed the game for Carroll.
"We were able to get in our stuff quick," Imhoff said. "We made couple adjustments in some timeouts and we ran the action we wanted right away instead of running some false motion to get a look."
It was the fourth win for Carroll College, and yet another close loss for the Orediggers, who have shown impressive growth in year two under Adam Hiatt.
Imhoff led all scorers with 28 points, shooting 7-for-16 from the field and a staggering 14-for-15 from the foul line. Imhoff added seven rebounds and three assists.
The Orediggers had four players in double figures, led by Capital High product Carson Dummer who finished with 12 poitns and Jake Miles who also added 12 points.
STATS THAT STAND OUT
30 bench points: Tech had big play from its bench.
Carroll as a team went 21-from-22 from the foul line (95 percent).
Carroll travels to play Rocky Mountain College on Friday. The Orediggers follow suit with a Saturday affair in Billings.