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Blue Hawks women's basketball avenges earlier loss, tops Orediggers

Montana Tech had reason to be wary of its rematch with Dickinson State. After the Orediggers turned in a 73-62 win over the Blue Hawks a week prior in their home gym, Dickinson State returned the favor on Saturday with a 74-65 victory at Scott Gy...

Dickinson State junior Ashley Bentz-Laub attempts a shot over the defense of Montana Tech's Rachel Farris on Saturday at Scott Gymnasium. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State junior Ashley Bentz-Laub attempts a shot over the defense of Montana Tech's Rachel Farris on Saturday at Scott Gymnasium. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

Montana Tech had reason to be wary of its rematch with Dickinson State.

After the Orediggers turned in a 73-62 win over the Blue Hawks a week prior in their home gym, Dickinson State returned the favor on Saturday with a 74-65 victory at Scott Gymnasium.

Coming in, Montana Tech head coach Carly Sanon knew the Blue Hawks had free rein to shoot from distance, and early on, it was a 3-point barrage that kept Dickinson State (2-1) even with the Orediggers.

Montana Tech (4-2) was 7 of 14 on 3-pointers in the first half, and DSU was 7 of 15, led by five from junior Ashley Bentz-Laub, producing a 39-39 tie at the break. Senior Lorna Shepherd and junior Paitton Herbst also connected on 3-pointers in the first half.

The Orediggers were led at the half by 13 points from Martha Dembek and 11 from Hattie Thatcher, both of whom drilled a trio of 3-pointers.

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"If the other team's hitting, you have to be able to match that," Bentz-Laub said. "We were in dire need of making those shots. I think the game easily could have gone the other way had we not been hitting from the 3-point line."

Blue Hawks head coach Mark Graupe said those early shots were critical to keep pace with, what he called, the best 3-point shooting team DSU will face all year.

"This is a really good ballclub. And anytime we play a team from the Frontier Conference, we know we have our hands full," Graupe said. "Their team scares me to death offensively."

It worked out, then, that Dickinson State opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run spanning more than 3 minutes to create some separation.

"All their perimeter players can shoot the ball," Bentz-Laub said, "so we really decided we were going to lock on on defense, and that was the key."

Sanon agreed.

"That was the difference in the game," she said. "We talked at halftime and said we had to be ready for that. We couldn't get down and try to get it back in the fourth quarter, but that's what happened."

Dickinson State's lead ballooned to as many as 13 in the fourth quarter before Montana Tech started crawling back. The Orediggers cut it to six points with less than 2 minutes to play, but Bentz-Laub's only points of the second half - a 3-pointer from the left corner - put the game back out of reach, avenging DSU's only loss of the season.

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"That was huge," Graupe said. "They were making a little bit of a run, and when she hit that one, that's the one that broke their back."

Bentz-Laub finished with a team-high 18 points, and she was joined in double-figures by Megan Klein (13 points, with 18 rebounds), Taylor Henningsgard (14 points, with six assists) and Shepherd (12 points, with four assists).

Herbst was 2 for 4 from deep and finished with eight points. Another single 3-pointer from MacKayla Feeney (seven total points) gave DSU 10 for the game.

"You can't key on anybody in this group," Graupe said. "We've got good balance."

Thatcher led the Orediggers with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and Dembek backed her up with 16. Kaylee Zard added 13 off the bench.

DSU returns to the court at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Rocky Mountain (Mont.) College.

Dickinson State 74, Montana Tech 65

MT 22 17 11 15

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DSU 20 19 20 15

MT: Rachel Farris 6, Hattie Thatcher 20, Monica Landdeck 3, Martha Dembek 16, Kaylynn Coverdell 2, Callee Remsen 5, Kaylee Zard 13.

DSU: Lorna Shepherd 12, MacKayla Feeney 7, Taylor Henningsgard 14, Ashley Bentz-Laub 18, Megan Klein 13, Paitton Herbst 8, Kate Golding 2.

Total fouls: MT 17, DSU 13. 3-point goals: MT 9-25 (Thatcher 4-6, Landdeck 1-5, Dembek 4-10, Kourtney Coverdell 0-4), DSU 10-22 (Shepherd 1-2, Feeney 1-6, Henningsgard 0-1, Bentz-Laub 6-9, Herbst 2-4). Rebounds: MT 37 (Thatcher 9), DSU 45 (Klein 18). Assists: MT 13 (three tied, 3), DSU 11 (Henningsgard 6). Steals: MT 7 (two tied, 2), DSU 2 (Herbst 1, Henningsgard 1). Blocks: MT 6 (Zard 3), DSU 2 (Bentz-Laub 1, Henningsgard 1). Turnovers: MT 9, DSU 16.

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