HELENA - Carroll’s basketball teams split contests with the University of Providence on Saturday evening in Great Falls. The Carroll women beat the Argonauts 71-63, while the men fell 84-75.
It's the same formula that has kept the Carroll College women’s basketball team consistently in the win column this season. Out-rebound your opponent, score a ton of points in the paint and get great guard play from seniors Christine Denny and Danielle Wagner.
The Saints accomplished all three on Saturday in Great Falls. With the win, Carroll improves to 11-1 on the season and remains perfect in Frontier Conference action at 5-0.
Providence falls to 1-2 on the season and 1-2 in league action with the loss.
“It kind of came down to who was going to make the most plays,” Saints head coach Rachelle Sayers said. “I thought we played hard, we played well. I thought in the first half we left a lot of points on the board and missed some easy ones. I didn’t think we rebounded as well as we traditionally do. I thought with three, four minutes to go, we just had some players that stepped up and made some big plays.”
While the Saints have found themselves in defensive struggles of late, namely against Montana State-Northern on the road, Sayers’s team scored its most points of the year on Saturday behind a 50 percent shooting effort.
That number encompassed a 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) night from 3-point range as Wagner and Denny combined to make 13 of Carroll’s 25 field goals. In fact, 44 percent of the Saints’ attempted shots from the field either came from Wagner or Denny as they scored a combined 37 points.
As two of the more experienced players on the roster, it was that duo that had their hands on the ball late in the contest. With her team holding onto a one-point advantage with 3:42 left in the game, Wagner bookended a made 3-point shot by Providence with two of her own, extending Carroll’s lead to four with three minutes left.
“Those obviously are experienced kids and they’re kids that are winners,” Sayers said. “They want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line and they’re confident enough to take those big shots. Obviously their teammates are confident in them to take them as well.”
Denny then made a bucket to help hold that lead and two free throws with 1:42 to help ice the game for the Saints.
While Denny and Wagner scored 21 and 16 points, respectively, to carry the Saints, sophomore Jamie Pickens continued to make her presence known on the inside with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting and four rebounds.
Seniors Emilee Maldonado and Parker Esary broke into double digits for Providence with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Entering the game, that duo paced the Argonauts in scoring and were part of the focus for the Saints leading up to Saturday.
“We obviously wanted to limit the touches that Parker Esary got in the paint and be real physical with her,” Sayers said. “Try to make other people score. We did limit her touches, she only got seven shots, but unfortunately she made six of them. In the meantime, they had some other players that stepped up and hurt us. We’ve got to do a better job getting out to their shooters.”
Despite being out-scored in the paint, a rarity for the Saints so far this season, they out-rebounded Providence 34-27, including 24-14 on the defensive glass. That, along with some timely play-making down the stretch allowed the Saints to take the front-end of back-to-back games in Great Falls.
“Very evenly matched game and we got to turn around and figure out how to be a little bit better again tomorrow,” Sayers said.
Against one of the better teams in the NAIA, the Carroll men struggled to find their shooting stroke early. Living in the mid-20 percent range from the field in the first half permitted Providence to build a 47-26 halftime lead in an eventual 84-75 loss for the Saints.
Despite out-scoring the Argonauts 49-37 in the game’s final 20 minutes, the Saints found themselves in too big of a hole to dig themselves out of. With the Providence lead sitting at 21 points at halftime and ballooning past that at times in the second half, there was not much Carroll could do but continue chipping away.
Behind some timely 3-pointers from sophomore Dennis Flowers III and 14 points from freshman Guilherme Pedra, Carroll cut Providence’s advantage to nine points with less than three minutes left in the contest. That lead would only shrink to seven with under 30 seconds remaining as three Argonauts scored in double figures.
Junior Marcus Stephens notched a game-high 22 points for Providence and senior Zaccheus Darko-Kelly added 19 points and seven rebounds. Redshirt sophomore Dawson Fowler chipped in 10 points as Providence shot 53.6 percent as a team and hovered closer to 60 percent much of the game.
Despite rectifying its cold start and bouncing back to shoot 42.3 percent over 40 minutes, the Saints turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 25 points off turnovers for Providence.
Over 45 percent of the Argonauts’ points on Saturday came in the paint, with 16 points coming as a result of fouls by Carroll and trips to the free throw line.
In all, three other Saints joined Pedra and Flowers in double digits. Junior Shamrock Campbell finished 6-for-14 from the field with 14 points, sophomore Ifeanyi Okeke added 11 points and junior Jovan Sljivancanin contributed another 10 points for Carroll.
With the loss, the Saints fall to 5-4 on the season and 2-3 in the Frontier Conference. Providence improves to 3-0 on the year and holds the same record in league play.
Carroll women’s team will be back in action on Sunday afternoon against Providence. Tip off is slated for 2 and ends their long road swing. The Carroll men also matchup with Providence once again on Sunday in Great Falls. Tip off is scheduled for 4 p.m. to wrap up the doubleheader.