UMW News BureauThe University of Montana Western Bulldogs men’s basketball team held off a furious rally by Westminster College to defeat the Griffins 69-64 Saturday night in the Straugh Gymnasium on the Montana Western campus. By Lowell Peterson The University of Montana Western Bulldogs men’s basketball team held off a furious rally by Westminster College to defeat the Griffins 69-64 Saturday night in the Straugh Gymnasium on the Montana Western campus. The first seven minutes of the game was an even battle featuring four ties. Westminster was on top by two points, 12-10, when Kyle Erickson hit a three-pointer to start an 18-5 Bulldog run that ended with two Brandon Brown free throws to put Montana Western on top by 11, 28-17 at the 8:38 mark. The Griffins responded to tie the game for the fifth and sixth times on baskets by Jake Orchard and AJ Reilly before Erickson nailed a long three point shot with three seconds left to keep Montana Western on top, 36-33, as the first half ended. Montana Western (2-0, 14-4) dominated the start of the second half, scoring the first 13 points and going on a 24-5 run to open up a 22-point lead (60-38) with 10:12 to play. Tyler Hurley scored 14 of the Bulldogs’ points during the run and Jake Owsley added five. Westminster (0-2, 12-6) could have rolled over and been totally blown out of the game at that point, but the Griffins proved they are too good a team to let that happen. The Griffins went on a 23-6 run to cut the Bulldog lead to five points, 66-61, with 1:36 to play. During the run Jake Orchard scored 10 points and Brad Brown came off the bench to score six. Forced to foul, Westminster sent the Bulldogs to the free throw line and Kyle Perry hit a free throw and Cedric Clarington knocked down two more to put Montana Western ahead 69-61 with nine seconds left. Orchard hit a three-pointer as time ran out for the final margin. Hurley led the way for Montana Western with 25 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He made 10 of 16 field goal attempts, three of four three point shots and both of his free throw attempts. Brandon Brown finished with 15 points, six assists and two steals. Kyle Erickson had another good game with 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Perry also grabbed seven rebounds. As a team Montana Western shot .500 (24-48) from the field, .533 (8-15) on three pointers and .765 (13-17) from the free throw line. The Griffins had two players score in double figures. Orchard let the way with 21 points and Ben Walker finished with 10. Tanner Gregory was the top rebounder with seven and Walker added six. Westminster was .400 (26-65) from the field, .294 (5-17) from beyond the three point line and .875 (7-8) on free throws. Westminster returns home to host Carroll College (1-0, 8-5) on Jan. 12 and Rocky Mountain College (0-1, 7-9) on Jan. 14. Montana Western hits the road to play the University of Great Falls (0-1, 12-4) on Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Montana State University-Northern (1-0, 15-2) on Jan. 14 at 8 p.m.