GREAT FALLS — Carroll women’s basketball coach Rachelle Sayers had a goal for junior guard Danielle Wagner.
“She needed to get 30 (points) and 20 (rebounds),” Sayers said with a smile.
Wagner settled for 22 points and 13 rebounds and led her team to a 64-62 victory Saturday night at the McLaughlin Center.
“I’m definitely proud of her,” Sayers said of Wagner. “She played to win.”
Carroll trailed early to start the game against Providence Saturday in Great Falls, but found its touch when point guard Kamden Hilborn hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Wagner got involved when she converted a three-point play to give her team a 21-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Carroll’s offense grew quiet in the second quarter after missing its first 12 shots.
Providence took advantage with shots by Jenna Randich and Emilee Maldonado to take the lead.
The Saints’ seven minute drought finally ended when Wagner made a layup.
Sophomore guard Sienna Swannack added a mid-range jump shot, but the Argos held the momentum when their all-conference post, Parker Esary scored inside and Randich hit a 3-pointer as time expired.
Carrol’s five-point first quarter lead turned into a 31-27 deficit.
I think we learned a lot (in that game),” Sayers said. “After that second quarter, we were a little out of sorts and we really needed to get organized.”
Carroll’s struggles shooting the ball continued into the third quarter when Sayers watched her players miss easy baskets inside.
But Providence was also struggling to shoot the ball.
The Argos finally put together a run that saw Kennedy Cartwright hit a 3-pointer to go ahead 43-35, but the Saints answered with a bucket by Wagner.
Little did they know, she was just getting started.
When forward Hannah Dean walked off the court after playing her last college basketball game, Sayers knew she was going to have to find a scorer.
And since December, Wagner has stepped into the spotlight.
The junior from Havre is averaging 14 points per game and helped the Saints score and rebound.
She finished with 10 rebounds in the second half and, before she knew it, her team was down just two points in the final two minutes.
Wagner added a 3-pointer with a minute to go and a put back in the final 10 seconds give her team the win.
“At that moment I was the one open, so all it took was being confident,” Wagner said.
Carroll continues its road trip when it travels to Billings next Wednesday.
“The kids executed, and this was an evenly matched game from start to finish,” Sayers said. “The kids had to grind it out. I wasn’t sure how we were going to respond, but I am so proud of these guys.”
For Providence, Randich and Esary finished with 15 points a piece and will look to rebound Thursday at home against Montana Tech.