HELENA — When Carroll College men’s basketball coach Kurt Paulson came to the office early Saturday, he saw the lights on in the gym.
He peered in and saw freshman point guard Dennis Flowers III working on his shot.
“He has a work ethic,” Paulson said. “You can’t teach that.”
Flowers didn’t have a particularly good game on Friday against SAIT. He finished 0-for-7.
But it didn’t take him long to put his subpar performance behind him as he bounced back with 18 points during a 93-55 win over Walla Walla University.
“I think I was just too relaxed yesterday, so I made sure I was aggressive,” Flowers said. “I made sure that missed shots didn’t affect what I needed to do.”
A game like the one against the Wolves isn’t something new.
Since he was inserted into the starting lineup against Whitworth College in late November, he has made an impact for the Saints.
He scored 19 points against Montana Tech, 17 points against Mount Vernon Nazarene and a career high 22 points against Arizona Christian.
"He has played so good for so long,” Paulson said. “He doesn’t settle, and he played well.”
Flowers got his first score in the paint about seven minutes into the game to put the Saints ahead 14-9.
Carroll’s full-court press gave Flowers another opportunity that extended the lead to 21-12.
“I knew the guy (Walla Walla) put on me was a mismatch, so I just started attacking,” Flowers said.
Flowers wasn’t the only player in sync with the offense.
Sophomore forward Jovan Slijivancanin started hitting hook shots in the paint and found his range when he hit a pair of 3-pointers from the top of the key.
By halftime, Sljivancanin had a game-high 19 points. He ended the night with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“We have really grown since the start of the year,” Sljivancanin said. “I knew we had a long ways to go and we have just been getting better."
Walla Walla slowed the game down a bit to start the second half, but switching into a zone defense.
But the Wolves’ momentum didn’t last long.
Dane Warp hit a pair of 3-pointers turning a 27 point halftime lead into a 61-32 lead with 13 minutes left.
A pair of 3-pointers by Flowers sealed the game and the Saints’ fourth consecutive win.
“I just told the guys to keep sharing the ball and moving and it led to 93 points,” Paulson said.
After the game, Sljivancanin smiled when he thought about when he was a freshman last season.
Now, he is stepping into his former upperclassmen’s shoes and watching how much the freshmen are growing.
“It feels great,” Sljivancanin said. “If you can learn from upperclassmen, you can really grow as a player, so I know it’s players like myself and Dane (Warp) to take on that role.”
Carroll returns to the PE Center on Jan. 2 when it faces Concordia Edmonton.