HELENA — Carroll College sophomore guard Christine Denny was getting a little restless on the bench watching her team battle against Montana Tech on Tuesday night.
So she decided to take the game into her own hands.
Denny spent the majority of the first half picking up two quick fouls, but that wouldn’t stop her.
She finished with a team-high 15 points, all coming in the second half, as she propelled a 68-63 Frontier Conference comeback win by the women's basketball team at the PE Center on Tuesday night.
“We needed to have a good game and bounce back after we lost to (Montana) Western this past weekend,” Denny said. “Being able to get a win like this against a team like Tech, who is always going to fight, was big time for us.”
Carroll started the game scoreless for nearly half of the first quarter until Jaidyn Lyman hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
The Orediggers look advantage of their opponents shooting struggles and answered with a jump shot by Kaylee Zard to take an 8-3 lead.
Carroll’s bench responded in time of need when Emma Madsen scored and, after a make by Brittney Johnson, the Saints were back in it.
Things changed for the Saints during the second quarter when momentum shifted and they finally took the lead on a shot by Danielle Wagner.
Carroll pushed the lead up to 18-15 after a score by Sienna Swannack, but the Orediggers didn’t lay down.
Montana Tech sophomore Mollie Peoples has primarily been the spark off the bench for coach Carly Sanon and did not disappoint.
She first hit a shot in the paint to cut the deficit down to a point and then found Hailey Crawford in the corner for the open 3-pointer.
Peoples added two more buckets and led her team in the locker room at halftime with a 34-29 lead.
“Tech played great,” Carroll coach Rachelle Sayers said.
Carroll returned in the third quarter with a new intensity as Dean hit a 3-pointer, followed by a bucket by Denny.
Montana Tech held its composure as Peoples kept her team ahead with another score. She finished the game with 20 points on 8-15 shooting.
The Saints watched as the Orediggers increased their lead to as many as six points with minutes winding down in the third quarter.
To make matters worse, Dean left for the trainer’s room with an ankle injury.
Dean returned, bad ankle and all, early in the fourth quarter as she found Taylor Salonen for a bucket to take the lead.
After the game, Dean said her ankle was a little sore, but said it was nothing she couldn’t handle.
“I wanted to be out there, so I just taped it up,” Dean said. “Even if I wasn’t getting the ball, I think I draw enough attention to open things up for Christine.”
With the game going back-and-forth, Montana Tech came back with a shot by Peoples to tie the game, but Carroll ended up with the final blow.
Saints sophomore Danielle Wagner came back on the other end and nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by a layup off the glass by Denny.
Montana Tech had a chance to tie the game on the final possession, but Denny blocked Peoples’ 3-pointer to seal the win.
“Coach said, ‘Whatever you do don’t block the shot,’ ” Denny said with a smile. “I kind of knew she was going to pump fake and then use her dribble. When she stepped back, I knew she was going to shoot it.”
Denny looked at her coach, fearing the worst.
“She just said I was clutch,” Denny said.
The win places Carroll up a half a game on Montana Western for first in the Frontier Conference, while the loss pushes the Orediggers to the bottom of the standings.
“This was a big game for us,” Sayers said. “I was really worried about how well mentally we would respond after an emotional weekend. I hoped we could move forward, but it took us three quarters to get going.”