HELENA — The Carroll College men’s basketball team has had no problem scoring the basketball this season.
It sat 21st among NAIA teams, averaging 84.4 points per game.
But during the game the Saints needed the offense to show up the most, it stayed outside battling subzero temperatures.
Ninth-ranked Carroll shot a dismal 38 percent from the field as it was routed by No. 12 Lewis-Clark State 76-60 in the Frontier Conference Championship game at the PE Center Tuesday night.
It was the second loss to the Warriors in as many tries.
“We had some great looks, but they just didn’t fall,” Carroll coach Kurt Paulson said. “We just had to play from behind all night and had to change up our game plan.”
Struggles didn’t take their time find their way into the Saints’ offense.
After the first seven minutes, Carroll (25-7) made just 2 of 11 shots from the field.
On the other end of the floor, Lewis-Clark State (27-6) kept making shots, more specifically 3-pointers.
The Warriors made four of their first six 3-pointers which came from nearly every direction.
Dana Abe hit one, Cordel Hankerson followed suit and and then Josiah Westbrook decided to join the party with another 3-pointer.
By midway through the first half, Carroll was looking up at a 20-9 deficit.
“They were driving and kicking while we weren’t rotating fast enough,” Carroll senior guard Ife Kalejaiye said. “They aren’t known for being knockdown shooters but they were open and any college basketball player can hit that shots like that.”
Carroll tried to answer with some 3-point shooting of its own.
The first make was a shot from the top of the key by Match Burnham.
Dane Warp added another one with 41 seconds left in the first half, but the Saints were still fighting an uphill battle.
Burnham had an opportunity for a third 3-pointer in the final five seconds before halftime, but it was blocked as the Warriors held all the momentum.
The Saints finished 2 of 14 beyond the arc, and tied fewest 3-pointers in a game this season.
Things didn’t change in the second half as the Warriors’ offense kept increasing their lead.
Carroll cut the deficit down to as any as eight points, but every time it would score, Lewis-Clark State senior Derrick White seemed to have an answer.
He sealed the game when he made a three-point play on a layup and finished with a game-high 22 points.
“Give (Lewis-Clark State) credit,” Paulson said. “They have been on a roll and they took us out of a lot of the things we were trying to do.”
Carroll still has a very good chance to make the NAIA National Tournament, finishing the regular season as the ninth-ranked team in the nation. No matter what seed they receive on Wednesday, seniors such as Kalejaiye know what to expect heading into Kansas City.
The Saints entered last year’s National Tournament as a No. 2 seed and the year before entered as a No. 1.
“That experience will help and the freshmen have played a lot of minutes because of the injuries,” Kalejaiye said. “It’s going to help our depth a lot.”