The Saints are clinging to a one-game lead in the Frontier Conference as the regular season winds down, with just two weeks remaining. Carroll holds an edge over No. 13 Western, which defeated the Saints 77-71 last week, taking the season series 2-1.
However, Western dropped a game a few nights later at Rocky Mountain College to give the Saints their cushion.
Lewis-Clark State College continues to butt its way into the top of the conference, making for a three-team way to finish out the season.
Here’s a look at the Frontier Conference this week:
No. 8 Carroll College Saints
Record: 21-5, 11-3
Last week: The Saints suffered their first 0-2 week in conference play this season, succumbing to a swath of injuries and a brutal four-games-in-seven-days schedule. Carroll fell first to No. 13 Western, 77-71, in the PE Center, losing Oliver Carr for the season during the game and further depleting a banged-up roster. Two nights later in Billings, the Saints pieced together rotations and searched for new ways to produce points, stabilizing an offense all but too late as they fell to the Battlin’ Bears 82-79.
This week: Carroll rounds out the home portion of its regular-season schedule with contests against Great Falls (11-14, 3-11) and Montana State-Northern (19-7, 8-6). It’s a chance for the Saints to see if they’ve figured out what their next iteration looks like. As the team bounces back from injuries, the week of preparation will show if Carroll can take care of business for the final time on their home court this regular season.
No. 13 Montana Western
Record: 20-6, 10-4
Last week: Montana Western did enough to uproot Carroll in Helena for the second time this season, knocking off the Saints 77-71. Saturday, though, Western ran into a streaky Rocky Mountain team in Billings and dropped its chance to take the Frontier Conference lead, losing 80-72. Western is 4-4 in its last eight games.
This week: Western gets arguably its toughest remaining game of the regular season this week as it hosts Lewis-Clark State College (20-7, 10-5). The season series between the two teams is tied at 1-1 with LCSC winning the last game in Lewiston 90-89 in overtime. Two nights later, the Bulldogs will also host Montana Tech (7-19, 1-14). Last time Tech and Western squared off, the Bulldogs went into Butte and left with a 66-61 win.
Lewis-Clark State College Warriors
Record: 20-7, 10-5
Last week: The Warriors continued making a case to be a part of the NAIA Top 25, handling business at home against Montana-State Northern, 71-67, and Great Falls 90-58. Save one blowout at the hands of Western, Lewis-Clark State College has challenged the Frontier’s best each night out.
This week: The Warriors have arguably the most difficult remaining schedule left, traveling to No. 13 Western (20-6, 10-4) and a surging Rocky Mountain (14-12, 7-7), which knocked off the Frontier’s best last week. The Warriors have split with both teams this season, losing at Dillon and in Billings. Next week, the Warriors host No. 8 Carroll to close out the regular season.
Montana State-Northern Lights
Record: 19-7, 8-6
Last week: In the middle of its six-game road trip, the Lights split a pair of games, losing to Lewis-Clark State College 71-67, and defeated Montana Tech 76-62. The Lights kept the it to a one-possession against Lewis-Clark, but couldn’t come up the step they needed to tie or take the lead.
This week: The Lights hit the road for the final time this season, visiting Great Falls (11-14, 3-11) and No. 8 Carroll College (21-5, 11-3). The Lights have split against Great Falls this season, losing in the Electric City 63-51 and holding down the Argos in Havre, 73-62.
Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears
Record: 14-12, 7-7
Last week: Rocky had been inconsistent for the majority of the season. Last week, the Battlin’ Bears put it all together to earn home wins against the Frontier’s best. Rocky knocked off a banged-up No. 8 Carroll College team, 82-79, and then upended No. 13 Montana Western 80-72 a few nights later. The Battlin’ Bears showed different styles of play in the games, using a baffling 3-point barrage to take down the Saints, and then pounding the ball inside with forward Zach Hinton to knock off Western.
This week: Rocky has two more home games to keep its momentum rolling, hosting Montana Tech (7-19, 1-14) and Lewis-Clark State College (20-7, 10-5). Rocky has defeated Tech twice this season, and split with Lewis-Clark, most recently dropping a game to the Warriors in Lewiston 90-84. The first time the two teams squared off in Billings, Rocky earned an 81-74 win.
University of Great Falls Argos
Record: 11-14, 3-11
Last week: The Argos broke a nine-game losing streak by defeating Montana Tech 77-73, but then took another lump, falling in Lewiston to the Warriors 90-58. The Argos defeated Tech twice this season, while also earning a win over Montana-State Northern in early January.
This week: Great Falls begins the week by hosting Montana State-Northern, a team the Argos have bested and fallen to this season. Most recently, the Argos lost to the Lights in Havre, 73-62. A night after Northern, the Argos travel to Helena to battle the Saints (21-5, 11-3). Great Falls fell to the Saints 94-56 on Jan.6 in Helena, and then lost 71-32 to the Saints on Jan. 28.
Montana Tech Orediggers
Record: 7-19, 1-14
Last week: The Orediggers’ down season has matured, graying as the losses have piled up. The Orediggers took two more losses last week , being battered by Great Falls 77-73 and Montana State-Northern, 77-73 and 76-62, respectively.
This week: Tech hits the road for battles against Rocky Mountain College (14-12, 7-7) and No. 13 Montana Western (20-6, 10-4). Tech did battle to a five-point loss against Western on Jan. 26, losing 66-61, but has otherwise taken big losses to Rocky and Western.