A hot Rocky Mountain College men's basketball team got cooled off by visiting Black Hills State Tuesday night in the Fortin Center.
The Yellow Jackets from Spearfish, S.D., ended the game on an 8-0 run and handed the Battlin' Bears their first loss of the season, 64-59, in the non-conference tussle.
Sophomore guard Clay Pottorff scored on a drive from the baseline to put Black Hills State ahead for keeps 60-59 with 57.5 seconds remaining. Pottorff and Cain Atkinson also nailed a pair of free throws apiece inside the final 30 seconds as Black Hills avenged an 88-76 loss to Rocky last Friday night in Spearfish.
"I thought at our place they really took it to us," Yellow Jacket coach Paul Sather said of Rocky. "I think our guys really took that and learned from it. We knew we had to come out here and fight a battle and it was an absolute battle."
Black Hills is now 4-1 on the young season, while Rocky slipped to 5-1.
The Battlin' Bears shot just 27.3 percent from the field during the second half. The Yellow Jackets prevailed with the help of some hustling play on defense and a strong rebounding effort.
"Give them credit, but we just weren't focused," said Rocky coach Bill Dreikosen. "We had a lot of unforced turnovers. When you're missing layups like we did in the second half, you're just not concentrating. You can't turn on and off concentration. You've got to come focused and I didn't think we did that tonight. That's disappointing."
Rocky led by as many as nine points in the first half before falling behind 33-30 at intermission. The Battlin' Bears used a 9-0 spurt to lead 39-33 with 15:15 to play, but the Yellow Jackets just wouldn't go away.
The Battlin' Bears shot nine of 33 from the field in the final 20 minutes, including several attempts from inside the key that wouldn't fall.
"We had a lot of point-blank shots that you have to make," said Dreikosen.
There were six ties in the second half, but the Battlin' Bears grabbed the lead 59-56 on a long 3-pointer by James Bulluck at the 1:50 mark.
Sophomore Will Johnson, who finished with a double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds, buried two free throws to pull the Yellow Jackets within one, 59-58, with 1:34 left.
Black Hills moved in front for good 60-59 when Pottorff scored on his drive and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but teammate Luke Enos tipped the rebound back to him.
The Yellow Jackets were working the game clock down when Rocky's Chase Sukut came up with a steal, but missed the open layup with 30 seconds to go.
Pottorff then hit two free throws with 22 seconds left to make it 62-59.
A well-covered Sukut threw up a desperation 3-pointer with five seconds to play and missed. Atkinson tacked on his two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining to make the final 64-59 and complete the game-winning 8-0 scoring spree.
"They're awfully good," Sather said of the Battlin' Bears. "To come in here and win … it's a good deal. We're excited about the team we have. We have a chance to be good this year."
Atkinson finished with 15 points for the Yellow Jackets and Pottorff contributed 12.
Rocky was led by Devin Uskoski's double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Sukut, who was hounded all night by the tight-checking Atkinson, chipped in with 13.
Rocky will be in Helena Friday night to meet Dixie State of Utah at the Carroll College Tournament. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.
Black Hills 64, Rocky Mountain 59
Black Hills State (4-1) - Spencer Childress 0-1 0-0 0, Will Johnson 6-9 7-7 19, Luke Enos 3-9 0-0 6, Clay Pottorff 4-11 3-5 12, Cain Atkinson 4-11 7-8 15, Aaron Sutton 0-1 0-0 0, Travis Haney 0-0 0-0 0, AJ Fodness 3-6 1-1 7, Randy Herman 1-3 2-2 5, Rob Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-51 20-23 64. 3-point goals: 2-9 (Childress 0-1, Pottorff 1-3, Atkinson 0-3, Herman 1-2). Fouls: 16. Turnovers: 21. Assists: 4 (Childress 1, Johnson 1, Pottorff 1, Johnson 1). Steals: 7 (Atkinson 2, Fodness 2). Blocks: 0. Rebounds: 33 (Johnson 15).
Rocky Mountain College (5-1) - James Bulluck 2-6 0-0 5, Devin Uskoski 4-11 8-10 16, Anthony Allen 3-7 2-2 8, Nate Richardson 4-8 0-0 9, Chase Sukut 4-15 2-2 13, Theo Jackson 0-2 0-0 0, DeAnthony Holmes 1-3 1-2 3, Dwayne Johnson 1-2 0-0 3, Chawn Johnson 1-2 0-2 2. Totals: 20-56 13-18 59. 3-point goals: 6-16 (Bulluck 1-5, Richardson 1-2, Sukut 3-7, D. Johnson 1-2). Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Allen, Richardson. Turnovers: 16. Assists: 8 (Richardson 2, Holmes 2). Steals: 5 (Uskoski 1, Allen 1, Richardson 1, Sukut 1, C. Johnson 1). Blocks: 4 (Uskoski 2). Rebounds: 27 (Uskoski 10).
Halftime: Black Hills 33, Rocky 30.