HELENA —The No. 13 Carroll College women's basketball team got a little stronger on Saturday.
The Saints employed a variety of lineups against the Skylights of Montana State-Northern.
Early on, coach Rachelle Sayers went deeper into her rotation than usual. Part of that may have been the early lead. Another part could have been the turnaround before its next game on Wednesday.
Whatever the true reason, Carroll threw a lot of bodies on the court and got valuable experience to a host of players.
“Our kids played big minutes on Thursday,” Sayers said. “We have kids that need to get in there and get more game experience. We have some kids that were playing and now they’re not playing as much. We need them to get in and play in our rotation.
“We’re only as strong as our bench. We have a great bench. We need to continue to get contributions from them.”
Six different Saints played at least 20 minutes on Saturday, and nearly everybody scored.
While it was a career night for freshman guard Jaidyn Lyman, the biggest roars came from the starters.
Sophomore Taylor Salonen hit a three with six minutes left, a 3-pointer that would do little to decide the final outcome.
As soon as it dropped the upperclassmen leaders celebrated as if the Saints had just won the Frontier Conference.
Senior guard Bailey Pasta hopped up and down, screaming “let’s go!” Junior forward Hannah Dean looked exasperated, looking up and also hollering “let’s go!”
On a night where most things went right for Carroll, it was the starters energizing the reserve players from the sidelines that stood out.
“I think it’s huge,” Sayers said. “It’s absolutely a sign of how close this team is. Our bench is huge. Mikaela Olson leads our energy crew on that bench. For those guys to get in and have the starting group really support them and kind of pay them back for the energy and the excitement that they bring for them is big.
"I was really excited to see Ole get in there and hit some shots .She’s been hampered with injury and she’s been fighting hard to get back so that was exciting.”
Olson finished with six points in about 14 minutes of game time.
The Saints will have a chance to show their depth on Wednesday against Montana Tech.