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Bulldog women down Rocky on the road

UMW News Bureau

The University of Montana Western Bulldogs defeated the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears 83-71 in a women’s basketball game at the Fortin Center in Billings Thursday night. By Lowell Peterson The University of Montana Western Bulldogs defeated the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears 83-71 in a women’s basketball game at the Fortin Center in Billings Thursday night. The Bulldogs (5-8, 15-11) held on to the fifth place spot in the Frontier Conference standings in addition to avenging a 20 point home court loss to the Battlin’ Bears (7-6, 18-10) on Jan. 28. Rocky remained tied with Montana State-Northern for third place in the conference. Alecia Wilson scored the opening basket for the Bulldogs but the Bears answered with a 10-0 run prompting head coach Cara Cocchiarella to call a timeout in an attempt to stop Rocky’s momentum. Sammi Bignell scored out of the timeout but the Bear’s Austin Hanser followed with a pair of field goals to push the lead to 14-4 with 16:05 on the clock. Bignell answered with a long range bomb and Montana Western began to chip away at the lead. Roxy Thurman nailed a three pointer to get the Bulldogs within three, 17-14, at the 12:44 mark and with just over nine minutes left in the first half Kelsey Callaghan hit another three to tie the game 24-24. Brittany Kumm responded with a three pointer to give the lead back to the Bears. Bignell scored five straight points to give the Bulldogs a two point lead, their first since two seconds into the game. After Montana Western pushed the lead to nine points, Rocky cut the lead to three before Brittney Leibenguth scored with one second remaining to send the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 45-40 advantage. Hanser opened the second half with a basket for Rocky but the Bulldogs held the lead for the next five minutes. With 14:44 to play Hanser assisted Kelcy Lott for an easy basket and the game was tied for the third time at 54-all. Nine seconds later Jenna Banks hit a three point shot to give Montana Western the lead but back-to-back baskets by Hanser put the Bears back on top. Hayley Pettit scored twice to give the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Down by five points, Rocky was forced to foul and Montana Western made seven of eight free throws in the last 1:28 of the game to account for the final score. Pettit led the Bulldogs with 18 points and 16 rebounds. It was the 16th time this season Pettit has recorded a double-double in a game. Bignell matched Pettit with 18 points and Wilson scored 12 and led the team with five assists. Nicole Tams was the steals leader with four. As a team Montana Western shot .475 (29-61) from the field, .357 (5-14) on three pointers and .833 (20-24) from the free throw line. Hanser was the game’s top scorer with 21 points and led her team in assists and steals with four of each. Alli Blake scored 14 points and Jillian Stanek finished with 10. Blake and Stanek each grabbed nine rebounds and Haleigh Crnkovich matched Hanser with four steals. Rocky Mountain was .438 (28-64) from the field, .182 (2-11) from beyond the three point line and .565 (13-23) on free throws. Montana Western closes out the regular season against the Carroll College Fighting Saints (4-9, 11-15) Saturday night Feb. 25 in Helena. The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The Saints are tied with Montana Tech for sixth place in the conference. Rocky hosts Montana Tech (4-9, 9-16) the same night at 5:30 p.m. in Billings.