HELENA — The last time the Carroll College women’s basketball team ran into third-ranked Montana Western, it pretty much stopped senior point guard Brianna King in her tracks.
Oh how things can change over two a period of two weeks.
King exploded for game-high 25 points as the Bulldogs defeated Carroll 60-46 in a battle of the top two Frontier Conference teams at the PE Center Thursday night.
The loss was the Saints’ largest in conference since losing 59-43 to Western in January 2018.
Carroll coach Rachelle Sayers described the game in one sentence.
“Well, they were really good and we weren’t tonight,” Sayers said. “That’s the bottom line. They are ranked third in the country for a reason.”
It didn’t take long for Western (18-1, 9-1) to take the lead. In fact, it took just 49 seconds in.
From there, the Bulldogs never looked back.
Western scored their first four baskets before the Saints (15-6, 7-3) made a shot.
Finally with 5:50 left, sophomore point guard Jaidyn Lyman made a layup.
But that was pretty much Carroll's entire offense.
The combination of King and senior guard Tori Anderson took control for the remaining of the first half.
King finished at the bucket after a behind-the-back move for the score, followed by a euro step by Anderson.
At one point the duo outscored the Saints 24-11.
Western coach Lindsay Woolley credited their close friendship for their successful chemistry.
“They find each other and when Tori gets cooking, it’s just another dimension for us offensively,” Woolley said.
The Bulldogs ended the half with King completing a three-point play and Carroll went into the locker room down 32-16.
It was the Saints biggest halftime deficit this season.
“We just couldn’t get a shot to fall,” said Sayers, who watched her team shoot 21 percent in the first half. “They were making plays like they do and you aren’t going to stay in a game with a team that is that good if you don’t come back and make a couple shots.”
Carroll’s struggles continued early in the second half when Britt Cooper scored to increase the Bulldogs lead to 17 points.
The Saints did hit their first 3-pointer of the game on a shot from Christine Denny at the top of the key, but Western held on tightly to its double digit lead.
Carroll finished with just two 3-pointers, shooting 11 percent on the night.
The Saints cut its lead down to 14 points when Hannah Dean made a shot in the paint with around three minutes left but that was as close as they would get.
Dean finished with her fifth double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, but the Saints fell in just their second home loss this year.
Carroll still sits in second place in the Frontier Conference, but with a road game coming up against the University of Providence this Friday, Sayers said her team knows it will have to put this game behind them quickly.
“This isn’t the end of the road for us,” Sayers said. “This game doesn’t define us. We are going to get these guys again and hopefully we get them a fourth time. I hope our kids want that.”
Western’s win makes its sixth in a row as it travels to Butte to face Montana Tech on Tuesday.