FULLERTON, Calif. — Carroll College players and coaches said they knew Hope International was going to be an athletic team before they even left Helena.
On Saturday night at Darling Pavilion, they confirmed that knowledge.
The Royals showed their size as they look down the Saints at home 73-64.
“They were big, but it really came down to rebounding,” Carroll coach Kurt Paulson said. “They really killed us on the boards.”
Hope International size featured two 6-foot-9 starters in Jonah Underwood and Michael Fry, along with a 6-foot-6, 300-pound center Josh Powell-Davis, who came off the bench.
By the end, Carroll was out-rebounded 38-27 and watched the Royals tip in second chance shot after second chance shot.
“They had 11 offensive rebounds,” Paulson said. “They just wedge in there and you can’t do much.”
But HIU didn’t display its size at first. Instead, its 3-point shooting helped gain the early advantage.
Senior guard Lloyd Wright started the game with a pair of outside shots, but the Saints responded with a couple of buckets by point guard Shamrock Campbell.
The Saints kept the game close as senior Dane Warp emerged.
Warp, who leads the team with 21.7 points per game, hit a 3-pointer and followed with a layup inside.
Carroll cut the lead down to just one point with five minutes left in the first half.
But the Royals’ size proved too much.
With HIU’s leading scorer Anthony Garcia on the bench with two fouls, it still managed a 16-4 run to end the first half.
Powell-Davis used his big frame to score inside, followed by Underwood grabbing second-chance buckets.
Carroll entered halftime down 41-28, its biggest deficit this season.
“They just kept bruising us on the inside,” Flowers III said. “Southern Oregon was pretty big, but this was a wakeup call. They were big but they were also skilled.”
Problems continued for Carroll in the second half.
After relying on its 3-point shot in the first three games this season, averaging 11 makes per game, the Saints couldn’t find a good look.
With 12:57 remaining, the Saints made just 2 of their first 12 shots from the outside.
Campbell missed his 3-pointer from the wing, followed by missed shots by Jovan Sljivancanin and Brendan Temple.
“We recruited guys that can shoot (3-pointers), but I thought we could attack more,” Paulson said.”
Momentum started to shift Carroll’s way midway through the second half after Sljivancanin got some touches inside.
By the 10-minute mark, the Saints cut their once 17-point deficit down to eight points.
But that was as close as Carroll could get as Hope International’s size overpowered it.
Powell-Davis hit two more shots inside and handed the Saints their first NAIA loss since the National Championship game last March.
“That’s probably going to be one of the bigger teams we are going to face this year,” Paulson said. “We are a pretty good rebounding team, generally, but tonight we couldn’t hang with those guys.”
Warp finished the game with a team-high 16 points, while Sljivancanin finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Carroll returns to Darling Pavilion on Monday when it plays Westmont College. The Warriors finished with 18 wins last season and made the NAIA Division II Tournament.
HOME SWEET HOME
For Flowers III, Ifeanyi Okeke and Gaven Ramirez, this game marked the first time they have played in their home state of California since coming to Carroll.
“It feels great to be home,” said Flowers III, who finished with nine points and four rebounds. “My parents were at the game, my AAU coach was at the game and it was good to see everyone again.”