First-place Rocky men beat UGF, 94-80; UGF's Abramson scores 51 in win over Rocky

2014-01-04T16:18:00Z 2014-01-04T23:44:11Z First-place Rocky men beat UGF, 94-80; UGF's Abramson scores 51 in win over Rocky The Billings Gazette

Rocky Mountain College's Fortin Center was the place for some rousing -- sometimes dazzling -- basketball on a snowy Saturday afternoon.

The first-place Battlin' Bears, seemingly playing big game after big game, continued their roaring start on the men's side, getting another double-double from Joel Barndt and shooting 55 percent from the field in taking down the University of Great Falls 94-80 under the Frontier Conference spotlight.

Earlier in the day in the women's contest, UGF junior forward Lindsey Abramson was the show, displaying superior shotmaking in scoring a jaw-dropping 51 points in rallying the Argos past Rocky 88-84 in a wild game of scoring surges and comebacks.

The 6-foot-2 Abramson, who nailed a remarkable array of shots from inside and out, shot 21 of 31 from the field -- including a 3-pointer -- and 8 of 9 from the foul line en route to breaking Nichole Neill's school record of 47 points set in 2004.

"I had no idea," Abramson said of finishing with 51 points. "When I heard 51, I was just kind of like what! That's insane. I was in awe. Not me. No. At the time I didn't really feel it until everybody on my team got all excited for me. I definitely have good teammates."

UGF, which began the game in a 13-0 hole, also received 17 rebounds from Abramson, who is from Phoenix. Teammate Erin Legel added 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to the Argos' cause, including four clutch free throws in the final 9.4 seconds.

Barndt, a 6-9 senior forward from Billings, came away with his seventh double-double of the young season, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as the Rocky men improved to 3-0 in the Frontier and 12-3 overall.

The Bears, who led by as many as 24 points on three occasions during the second half, shot 11 of 19 from 3-point territory on the high-scoring afternoon.

Junior guard Tyree Anderson accounted for four of the 3-pointers en route to 19 points. Teammates Jeremy Nicolas and Malachi Roberts contributed 16 points apiece.

"It feels really good," the 6-3 Anderson said of Rocky's solid start. "Our defense is our focus, because we know we can score from anywhere on the court. We really focus on shutting down other teams, because we know we're going to get points."

The Bears, who led 50-36 at halftime, limited the Argos, 1-2 and 10-6, to 36 percent shooting with their feisty, unrelenting defense.

Rocky men 94, UGF 80

In winning their third consecutive game, the Bears enjoyed a double-digit advantage early on.

With its crisp ball movement and 58 percent shooting during the opening 20 minutes, a lot of doubt was taken out of the final outcome.

"I thought we shared the ball well tonight, and got rhythm shots most all of the time," said Rocky coach Bill Dreikosen, whose team wound up with 22 assists on 31 baskets. "We had some real nice stretches."

The Bears substituted freely as the game went on, with the Argos climbing back to within 88-78 with 2:20 to play.

However, Nicolas scored inside to help quickly quell the UGF uprising, which was led by TJ Harris and Marcel Towns, who finished with 20 points apiece.

The Argos hit on just 8 of 25 3-point attempts. UGF did make 22 of 29 free throws.

"I was excited about getting a sweep (against MSU Northern and UGF) here at home," Dreikosen said of his Bears' first-place standing. "You've got to take care of business at home and steal some games on the road. I mean, that's the formula for winning a conference championship."

UGF women 88, Rocky 84

The game was tied at 79-79 with 1:29 to play.

While Abramson was the scoring star, Legel provided a lot of pivotal points during the closing stretch.

After being fouled on a drive, her two free throws put the Argos up for keeps, 81-79, with 1:19 to go. Legel followed up with another driving shot to make it 83-79 with 43 seconds left.

She tallied eight of her 19 points in the game's final 1:19.

Down 86-83 with 5.7 seconds left, Rocky's Kelsey George made one free throw and missed her second one intentionally.

During the scramble for the rebound, the 5-5 Legel was fouled. She connected on two more free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining -- and was 11 of 14 at the line on the afternoon.

In the end, though, most of the talk centered on Abramson, who scored 34 points in the second half.

"We challenged her to get offensive rebounds and putbacks, we challenged her to attack from the high post and we challenged her to play with her back to the basket," UGF coach Bill Himmelberg said. "Assistant coach Jaci Heny has really worked with her on her post moves. They've been spending a lot of time in the gym together.

"That's the reason why this kind of performance can happen."

Before Saturday, Abramson was averaging around 16 points per game.

Rocky coach Brian Henderson called her huge game "pretty remarkable,"  but he also believed his Bears put up a fight.

"In the second half we got outrebounded by 13," he said. "I just feel like we made mental errors down the stretch that really cost us, so we've got to continue to improve on the playing hard and smart.

"We're getting there ... This is going to make us tougher in the long run and help us build some resolve."

Rocky's men and women will play at Montana Tech on Thursday.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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