mens basketball; CC vs Kootenai

Carroll College’s Kyle Nickol adds two to the board after a turnover from Salish Kootenai Friday in Helena.

The No. 4 Carroll College men’s basketball team get a powerful matchup to get reacquainted before the Frontier Conference season restarts.

After Christmas, Carroll will play the University of Calgary on consecutive nights, Dec. 28-29.

“Calgary is the second-ranked team in all of Canada,” Saints coach Carson Cunningham said. “The squad is stacked and it's living up to its moniker. The Dinos are playing like they’re trying to bust out of Jurassic Park. Matching up with them for a back-to-back, presents us with a mighty challenge.”

Calgary brings a 14-2 record into Helena, dropping two road games to other Canadian clubs. Playing another top-ranked team twice in a back-to-back is rare, but also a good test for each side.

The Dinos bring a sensational scorer to the PE Center in Mambi Diawara, who enters the contests averaging 25 points per game, while pulling down 8.2 rebounds and dishing out 3.2 assists.

“Being tested before conference restarts should help us get better and sharpen our operation,” Cunningham said. “The Dinos launch threes and knock them down at a high clip -- we see a lot of that in the Frontier. We'll need to bring the D.”

The Dinos are averaging 85.4 points per game and knocking down 9.3 threes per game, while shooting 32 percent from beyond the arc.

Carroll, of course, is a hot-shooting team, too. The Saints are ranked No. 1 in the NAIA in field goal percentage (58), No. 1 in free-throw percentage (81) and No. 4 in 3-point percentage (43).

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Not even a week after the high-profile affair with Calgary, Carroll gets back into the Frontier with games against Western and Lewis-Clark State College, arguably the toughest competition for the Saints this season.

After Christmas, the PE Center will play host to a bevy of good basketball games. Carroll’s battle with Calgary gets it all started.

“Hopefully folks in Helena will come out and cheer us on for these tough battles against the team ranked second in all the land of our cousins to the north,” Cunningham said.


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