HELENA -- The Carroll College women's basketball team knew that beating the University of Calgary wouldn't be easy in Sunday's home opener.

The Dinos, after all, are well into their season and came into the PE Center fresh off back-to-back wins over Rocky Mountain College and Montana Tech.

So the Saints knew it would be a challenge, however, there was no way they could have expected to be as cold offensively as they were in a 61-45 loss to their neighbors from the north.

"It was a struggle," Carroll head coach Rachelle Sayers said. "Not to take anything away from Calgary. They are a great team. It was just a tough matchup for us."

While the Dinos were playing their third game in as many days, the Saints were playing in their first game of the 2019 season and early on, especially on the offensive end, it looked like it.

With some new pieces in the starting lineup for Sayers, including former Helena High standout Kamden Hilborn, Carroll struggled to find a rhythm, scoring just eight first-quarter points and leaving the Saints down 18-8 after 10 minutes.

"They played with five guards pretty much the whole game," Sayers said. "And that made it tough for us to get the ball into our bigs."

In the second quarter, the shooting woes continued and even though Calgary scored just nine points, it added to its lead by holding Carroll to just two points in the stanza and 10 at the half, giving the Dinos a 27-10 advantage.

"Matchups were tough and I thought their pressure made us uncomfortable," Sayers said. "We just could not get anything going offensively. You go 0-of-14 from the 3-point line and 0-of-6 from the free throw line in the first half and that's tough to overcome."

Indeed, the Saints shot just 15 percent from the field in the first half, which led to the 17 point deficit, despite being plus eight in turnover margin at the break.

In the second half, the Saints were much better on offense, scoring a total of 35 points and connecting on 41 percent of their 3-pointers.

Yet, the closest they would get to the Dinos was 12 points and that came with just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Christine Denny provided a spark in the second half, scoring eight points on her way to a team-high 12. Denny also led the Saints with eight rebounds.

Sienna Swannack added eight points in the loss for Carroll. Jaidyn Lyman hit two second-half treys to finish with six and Dani Wagner, who also grabbed six rebounds, ended up with five. Hilborn also finished her first game as a Saint with two points and three assists.

"The kids battled in the second half," Sayers said. "But it's hard to stay in the game with a good team when you can't make a basket. Pretty soon your defense starts to go and your rebounding starts to go when you start worrying about your shot."

The Dinos shot 61 percent for the game compared to just 28 percent for the Saints. The high shooting percentage allowed Calgary to overcome 27 turnovers.

Erin McIntosh also helped as she notched a double-double thanks to game-highs in points (20) and rebounds (11). Reyna Crawford also pitched in for the Dinos with 14 points.

"We could have rolled over, but we never quit and I thought our kids did a great job of competing," Sayers said. "That shows that they (the players) are competitive and they didn't like the result either. This game won't define us but it certainly shows us where we have to improve."

Carroll will get a chance to rebound in just a few days as the Saints will be back in the PE Center Thursday to take on College of Idaho in a non-conference matchup.

Tip-off is set for 12 p.m.

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Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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