They slayed a giant last week.
This week, the Carroll College women’s basketball team can remedy past transgressions.
Carroll hosts No. 22 Montana Western (18-5, 7-5 Frontier) Tuesday evening in the PE Center, a matchup that -- even in the infancy of perhaps one of the biggest wins in team history on Friday when the Saints beat No. 2 Lewis-Clark State -- had Saints players talking of revenge.
Western has knocked off Carroll twice by a combined total of three points, squeezing a one-point win out in Helena and earning a two-point win in Dillon.
“We gotta be able to step up to the challenge,” Saints coach Rachelle Sayers said Friday. “We had Western beat twice and lost in the last 30 seconds. I know the girls remember it and remember it well. Western is going to come in here fighting for their lives so we have to step up to the challenge.”
Of late, the Saints matured, slashing their turnover numbers, sharing the ball, generating high-quality shots and, of course, forging wins through their towering height. Post play, rebounding and defense have consistently highlighted the Saints’ resume this season. But, it’s the other pieces, play from the wings and ball control, that eluded the Saints until their past three games -- all wins.
“I think that the kids understand that it’s going to take all of us,” Sayers said. “We have great post game. Everybody knows it. And everybody keys on it. Everything is so much easier when everybody is contributing and everybody is aggressive. I think you saw that starting in the Great Falls game and it trickled into the Tech game and then here. That’s the key. We are not a two- or three-person team. We’re 12-deep. Those kids can all contribute. Each teammates trust the other one to do so.”
Part of that is due to the confident play of guards Brittney Johnson, Sara Chalich and Bailey Pasta. Coach Rachelle Sayers has seen Pasta take leaps and bounds this season, but Johnson and Chalich had mostly reserved their energy for defensive spurts. As the Saints took down Montana Tech and No. 2 Lewis-Clark State last week, Johnson and Chalich made tremendous plays on offense, alleviating the yeoman’s work of posts Cassidy Hashley, Hannah Dean, Michaela Dowdy and Baylee Watson.
Johnson and Chalich scored 14 points combined in the previous two games against Western. Over the weekend in wins against Tech and LCSC, the two combined to score 38 points.
In Dillon, the Bulldogs slowed down Hashley, only allowing seven points from the forward. Pasta shouldered most of the scoring responsibility, putting in 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field. Each side in that game struggled to create shots for their teammates as the Saints finished with eight assists against 20 turnovers and the Bulldogs had three assists to its 12 turnovers.
The game will also show if Pasta can have another huge performance against the Bulldogs. Pasta scored 15 and 20 points in the Saints’ earlier losses to Western.
The Saints also are viewing this week as the beginning of round three, the final part of the regular season.
“The first round we go 2-6 and the second round we go 6-2,” Sayers said. “We look at conference as three rounds. Now we’re going to start the third round with Western on Tuesday. We have to stay where we’re at and we have to take step forwards. We’ve got to get Western. They’ve gotten us twice. Every game is important.”
The Saints are led by Hashley’s 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, which also leads the conference rebounders. Pasta adds in 10.7 points per night.
Western will counter with the scoring of Aniese Palmore, who drops 14.6 points, 3.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per night. Kaye Bignell also powers the Bulldogs, scoring 13.8 points and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per contest.
The game tips at 5:30 p.m. in the PE Center.