Carroll women's bench 2021

Saints head coach Rachelle Sayers talks to her team during a timeout in the middle of a game inside the PE Center.

With just a handful of games left on each team’s docket, Carroll is eyeing its second Frontier Conference women's regular season title in as many seasons. Montana Western and Providence are still in the hunt winning percentage-wise, but it would take a slip up by a Saints team that has only lost once over the last 11 games.

The trio of Carroll, Western and Providence all earned sweeps over the weekend to help solidify positions at the top of the league standings. Those results keep the top of this edition of the 2020-2021 Frontier women’s basketball power rankings the same heading into the middle portion of February.

1. Carroll -- 17-2, 11-1 Frontier

The Saints rolled over Northern on Sunday, giving them six consecutive wins and making Rachelle Sayers’ squad 10-1 over its last 11 contests. Sophomore Jamie Pickens was named the Frontier women’s Player-of-the-Week after notching back-to-back double-doubles over the weekend. Carroll will now play Rocky Mountain College in consecutive non-conference games this weekend after Providence could not play due to COVID-19.

With the help of Pickens, Carroll has maintained its dominance over opponents in the rebounding department. The Saints are a top-5 team in rebound defense and rank inside the top-20 in rebound margin at plus-9.2. Carroll is also a top-20 program in the NAIA in team field goal percentage and scoring defense.

2. Montana Western -- 13-4, 11-4 Frontier

The Bulldogs kept pace at the top of the league standings after Rocky Mountain College was forced to forfeit two games last weekend, meaning Western has now been in the win column in five straight games. Still, the Bulldogs are 0-2 against Carroll this season, and will get another shot at the Saints to close out the regular season.

Junior Brynley Fitzgerald is the league’s top scorer at 17.8 points per game, while redshirt senior Paige Holmes is also a conference leader with 2.92 steals per game. As a team, the Bulldogs rank 15th in the NAIA in steals per game and are ninth in turnover margin at plus-7.7.

3. Providence -- 6-4, 6-4 Frontier

Providence was able to string together a multi-game winning streak for just the second time this season with wins over Montana Tech last weekend. Both double digit victories at home against the Orediggers, the Argonauts have now won three of their last four games overall.

Providence will, however, remain idle this week after issues stemming from COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the Argonauts’ mid-week game, as well as their weekend contests against Carroll.

The Argonauts are the only team on the women’s side of the Frontier with two players in the top-5 in scoring. Seniors Emilee Maldonado and Parker Esary both average north of 14 points per game. Maldonado and Esary also pace the conference in assists and rebounds, respectively.

4. Montana State-Northern -- 4-11, 3-8 Frontier

The Skylights were on the wrong end of a 37-point drubbing by Carroll on Sunday. Northern hung with the Saints on Saturday, but was ultimately swept on the road. That means Northern has now dropped three of its last five games on the season.

While seniors Tiara Gilham and Peyton Kehr each average at least 12 points per game, the Skylights score just 64.4 points per game, on average, and shoot just 40.3 percent from the field.

5. Montana Tech -- 4-12, 4-12 Frontier

The Orediggers have now lost seven consecutive games after dropping back-to-back contests by double digits against Providence on the road. Tech last won on Jan. 16 against Northern, capping a three wins in four games stretch. Since then, though, it has been nothing but rough sledding for Tech.

Offensively, the Orediggers are the worst in the Frontier. Over 16 games, they have averaged just 59 points per game, a number that ranks 164th in the NAIA. As a team, Tech is shooting just 40.6 percent from the field, including just 32.5 percent from 3-point range.

6. Rocky Mountain College -- 1-8, 1-7 Frontier

The Battlin’ Bears were forced to forfeit two games to Western over the weekend, but got in a non-conference matchup with MSU Billings on Wednesday. Those forfeits, however, mean four straight conference losses for Rocky Mountain as the program prepares for two non-conference games against Carroll this weekend.

Email Daniel Shepard at daniel.shepard@406mtsports.com or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.

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