Orediggers Host Montana Tech Fall Classic | Montana Tech

BUTTE – Another weekend, another opportunity for college basketball teams to gain experience ahead of their conference schedule. The Orediggers are hosting the Montana Tech Fall Classic on November 18-19 in a four-team, four-game, two-rematch tournament.

In addition to Tech, the competition includes Providence, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and Dickinson State (ND). The action begins Friday at 3:00 p.m. with a matchup between the Dickinson State Blue Hawks and the Providence Argonauts.

DSU goes into the weekend with a 1-5 record after suffering two close defeats in the Western Classics. The Blue Hawks lost a fight with Montana Western, 61-60 and fell to Tech, 76-68. John Evans leads the team with 9.8 points per game at 50% shooting from three-point range. Tyce Dahlberg averages 9.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Providence goes 3-1 into the Fall Classic, with its only loss to Lewis-Clark State. In the Argos’ three victories over Portland Bible College, SAIT and Walla Walla, they have won by an average margin of 52 points. Three-point shooting was a bright spot for Providence early in the season. The Argos are 21st in the NAIA in three-point play with 11 and have shot 40.4% (28th) from behind the arc.

Kenny Curtis has shot 47.1% from deep and leads Providence with 13.8 points per game. Forward Jake Olsen averages 12.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Tech has its first Test of the weekend against the Lewis-Clark State Warriors at 5 p.m. Friday. The Orediggers’ 4-0 record saw them rise from 23rd to 18th in the most recent NAIA Coaches Top 25 poll. The team had a successful trip south for the Western Classic last weekend with victories over Eastern Oregon and Dickinson State.

“LC State is a powerhouse of the NAIA, they go to the national tournament almost every year. They used to be in the Frontier Conference so they’re very familiar and we have the utmost respect for them,” said Tech head coach Adam Hiatt.

The Orediggers’ undefeated start to the season can be attributed to several things. Tech averages the fewest turnovers per game (7) in the NAIA and ranks sixth in opponent field goal percentage (35.2%). Sophomore forward Michael Ure won Frontier Conference Player of the Week for the second straight week after hitting a double-double in both games at the Western Classic.

Ure was the team’s top scorer, averaging 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Caleb Bellach is averaging 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, with 46.2% shooting from three-point range.

LC State is 3-1 in the young season, with the only loss to No. 1 Arizona Christian in the opening game, 73-54. They have defeated Park Gilbert (Ariz.), Rocky Mountain College and Providence so far this season. The Warriors were solid defensively in their first four games, allowing 62.3 points per game (31st) and an opponent field goal percentage of 38.6% (30th).

Sophomore guard Davian Brown leads the team with 13.8 points per game and shoots 42.9% from long range. Silas Bennion averages 11 points, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game for the Warriors.

LC State and Providence have a rematch chance Saturday at 1:00 p.m. In their previous game on November 12, LC defeated State Providence 80-59. The Argos were held 36.7% from the field and 14.3% behind the bow. Conversely, LC State shot 54.2% from field and 42.9% from depth. The Warriors had four double-digit scorers in the win, led by Bennion with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

The day of rematches continues on Saturday with a matchup between Tech and DSU at 3:00 p.m. The Orediggers walked away with an eight-point win last weekend, but the game was closer than the bottom line suggests. The Blue Hawks led by five points late in the first half.

Tech’s 50% three-point shooting along with 17 points each from Bellach and Ure was too much for DSU to overcome. Trey Hladky led the Blue Hawks with 13 points and five rebounds.

It’s another clash between Hiatt and his former assistant at Tech, Derek Selvig, the current head coach at DSU.

“He (Selvig) is a big part of why we are where we are now,” Hiatt said. “Dickinson is a very difficult challenge for us, they do a lot of things similar to us for obvious reasons.”

Tech and LC State will look to continue their winning streaks while Providence and DSU have a chance to avenge preseason losses.

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