Subscribe for 17¢ / day

BUTTE – An easy first half didn’t turn into smooth sailing for the Montana Tech women’s basketball team.

The Orediggers saw a 21-point lead disappear in the third quarter before rallying for a 74-63 win over St. Thomas University, Tuesday night at HPER Complex.

The Bobcats were visiting from Miami Gardens, Florida, where the game-time temperature on their campus was in the mid-70s.

The cold settled in early for St. Thomas, which was able to hit just 6 of 19 shots in the first quarter.

Montana Tech took advantage of that by accumulating 19 rebounds in the opening frame and holding St. Thomas to two offensive rebounds during that same stretch.

The Orediggers only led by six points after the first quarter but opened up a 21-point lead before the half. Montana Tech opened up the second quarter with 12 unanswered points, which came from six different players.

The Bobcats scored their first two points of the second quarter, with 6:05 left in the half, when Joselie Multidor scored on a layup.

“We were their first game so all of the scouting we had on them was from last year,” Montana Tech coach Carly Sanon said. “They have a new coach so we were kind of going into this game blind.”

Despite that, the view must have looked pretty good for Sanon and her players, who took their biggest lead of the game with 21.1 seconds left in the half. A free throw by Sammy McGree gave the Orediggers a 44-23 lead.

Everything about the game seemed to change when the teams returned to the court for the third quarter.

The Orediggers, who shot 42 percent from the floor in the first half, lost their touch and were suddenly unable to hit their shots.

The Bobcats scratched their way back into the game by outscoring the Orediggers, 18-2, in the third quarter. St. Thomas used a 23-2 run, going back to their last basket of the second quarter and their first shot of the fourth, to tie the score at 46.

“We were 1 for 17 in that third quarter,” Sanon said. “We scored two points. We really couldn’t get anything going. We got shots, we just didn’t knock them down.

“We weren’t really running our stuff and we were taking a lot of quick shots instead of moving the ball around and getting wide-open looks. We called some entries, we didn’t run them right.”

The turnaround gave the Orediggers their first chance of the season find themselves in a close game while heading down the stretch. Though it’s not exactly how they planned it, they made the most of the situation.

“In games before, we had somebody step up and hit a shot,” Sanon said.

In this one, too.

Kaylynn Coverdell was that player on Tuesday night.

Coverdell put Tech back in front just after St. Thomas had tied it, and added a putback on a miss by Monica Landdeck to give the Orediggers a 50-46 lead.

Kourtney Coverdell added to the newfound momentum when a deflected ball landed bounced to her at the right baseline. She calmly drained a 3-pointer and added another field goal on Tech’s next possession to open up a 55-48 lead.

Kaylynn Coverdell showed off her brilliance during a 9-second span in which she scored on a layup, stole the ball and scored again for a 60-51 lead.

“Kaylynn was a huge boost for us. She got us some and-1s, she got steals on the break, which she scored on and that helped us,” Sanon said of the night’s leading scorer (16 points).

Kaylynn Coverdell completed the double-double by adding 12 rebounds.

The Orediggers pulled away from that point, handing the Bobcats a disappointing loss.

“It was good for us,” Sanon said. “It was good for us to work on things and be disciplined and do the things that we need to do. I felt like down the stretch when we needed to be solid. We were and that’s a good thing coming from such a young team.”

Kourtney Coverdell and Landdeck finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively, while Kaylee Zard registered 10 points.

Shay Potter came up big with 15 rebounds.

St. Thomas got a team-high 14 points from Samara Auguste, while Chakari Merritt and Katie Rienas added 13 and 10, respectively.