PHOENIX — The Montana Tech Orediggers will look to keep their undefeated season alive when they travel to Phoenix, Arizona for two games this weekend.
Tech defeated Lewis-Clark State and Dickinson State last weekend to extend their young-season record to 6-0. The team has clicked so far and defeated all of their opponents by eight or more points.
The Orediggers only allow 56.6 points per game (2nd), with opposing teams shooting 36.6% from the field (7th). Offensively, Tech averages the fewest turnovers in the NAIA (7.3) and has shot 42.4% from three-point range (13th).
Forward Michael Ure has been named Frontier Conference Player of the Week twice this season and leads the team in both points (15.3) and rebounds (8.5) per game. Caleb Bellach averages 14.3 points per game. It was a balanced offensive attack with eight players averaging 7.2 or more points over six games.
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After a strong start to the 2022/23 season, one of the biggest tests of the non-conference schedule is upon us. Tech plays Arizona No. 1 Christian Firestorm at 4:00 p.m. on Friday at their home court
ACU was ranked #1 in both NAIA Coaches polls, but lost to Westmont College the day after the last poll was released. The Firestorm are 5-1, with their lone loss to Westmont in overtime, 85-72. They defeated the No. 4 College of Idaho on Nov. 4, 82-78. Tech and ACU both played against a similar opponent, LC State, which they both defeated by over 20 points.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge,” Tech head coach Adam Hiatt said. “They are very different from the teams we played against. They will be the most athletic team we have ever played against.”
The Firestorm have three players averaging double-digit points, led by guard Trent Hudgens with 13.3 points per game. Senior guard Angelo Johnson is averaging nine points per game and has shot 47.4% from behind the arch.
“We need the challenge,” said Hiatt. “We have to play against the country’s No. 1 to really see where we are now after the first few weeks.”
Tech will stay in Phoenix to face the SAGU American Indian College Warriors on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The Warriors are part of the NCCAA and are 1-1 so far this season, with a 78-67 win in their last game against Whittier Uni.
Center Keyshawn Celestino-Clyde averages 21 points and 11.5 rebounds per game for the Warriors. Junior forward Harley Upton has averaged 16 points in the team’s first two games of the season.
Two wins in Phoenix would give Tech an 8-0 record ahead of their first Frontier Conference game of the season on December 1 against Rocky Mountain College.
Gavin Derkatch is a sportswriter for the Montana Standard. Follow him on Twitter @GDerkatch or email him at [email protected]