Shockers highlight Frontier's opening week
One week of Frontier Conference basketball is in the books. And what a week it was.
The opening weekend of league play might have more of an effect on the final league standings than any opening week has in years, and it's mainly due to one night in Salt Lake City. On Thursday night, the Montana Tech men's and women's basketball teams went into Salt Lake and shocked the Westminster Griffins, favorites to win league titles on both sides.
First, the Tech women pushed around the Griffins and earned an upset victory over the No. 11 team in the country. But if enough damage hadn't been done, the men's game which followed was even more of a stunner. The Oredigger men came into last Thursday's game with just two wins on the season, while the Griffins had lost just once and were ranked sixth in the nation. But Tech's A.J. Paine hit a 35-foot shot as time expired to lift Tech to a huge upset win, and in the process, gave all of the potential teams trying to knock off Westminster in the race for the Frontier championship an early leg up.
On the women's side, those teams include the Orediggers themselves, who have now have a game up on the Griffins, as well as powerhouse LC State, which went 2-0 on the weekend. Also off to a 1-0 start in conference play is UGF, which upset the MSU-Northern Skylights Friday night in Great Falls. The Argos are 1-0 in conference play for the first time in a very long time.
Westminster's loss shook up the NAIA women's poll too. LC State dropped one spot to No. 4 despite sweeping the Orediggers and UM-Western. The Griffins fell to No. 15, while 1-0 Carroll College moved up to No. 22. The Diggers' are also knocking on the door of the Top 25 after receiving 14 votes in this week's poll.
On the men's side, Tech wasn't the only big shake-up. Rocky Mountain College suffered a losing nonconference record, but on Friday night, the Bears went into Helena and knocked off the Saints, who had just three losses on the season. Meanwhile, LC State continued to impress, and with a sweep of Tech and Western, the Warriors are now 12-3 on the year, and they debuted in this week's NAIA poll at No. 21. MSU-Northern is creeping back towards the Top 25 as well. After beating UGF handily Friday night, the Lights have now won five in a row and seven of their last eight, and for their efforts, they received 28 votes this week. Westminster fell to No. 12 this week.
It was a great week for Tech, as point guard Tyree Haynie earned Men's Player of the week honors, while Carroll's Alysha Green took the women's honor.
Frontier play resumes on Thursday with critical early season games in Billings and Helena as LC State and Westminster travel to Rocky Mountain College and Carroll College, respectively. The two teams then switch locations on Saturday. Northern is at Tech on Friday night and Western on Saturday, with UGF the opposite.