The University of Montana Western men’s basketball team played Carroll College on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 and came away with a big second half and win in Frontier Conference play. The Bulldogs were able to get this win with key contributions from the bench.
Jake Owsley and Gabe Rucker were under the weather and unable to play their usual minutes, they combined for just 11:20 of court time. That left head coach Steve Keller to look to his bench to contribute and perform well. The UMW bench responded big. Kurtis Parsons and Shyke Smalls had big games for the Bulldogs. Those two plus Connor Woodill and Vince Turk stepped up big and showed that they were up to the challenge.
The Saints and Bulldogs were in a back and forth game most of the first and second half through 30 minutes of play. With just over ten minutes remaining the Bulldogs found themselves behind and looked to Parsons for a spark. He responded with UMW’s next 12 points to catapult them into the lead. Parsons’ four straight three pointers got his team into the lead and showed what a threat he can be when he catches his rhythm. Shyke Smalls showed his quickness and was able to drive to the rim and either score or dish to a teammate who was able to knock down the shot. The Bulldogs shot just under 50 percent with Smalls and Parsons combining to go nine of 11 shooting from the field and Parsons was four of five from behind the arc. Connor Woodill added 17 points on six of seven shooting from the field, three for four from three-point range, and made both of his free throws. Montana Western shot 25-28 from the free throw line making 89.3 percent.
The Bulldogs are now 10-6 overall and are 3-2 in Conference play. UMW travel to Salt Lake City, Utah next weekend to take on Frontier Conference leader Westminster who sits atop the conference with only one conference loss. Montana Western is currently tied with five other teams who find themselves one game back.