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womens basketball; CC vs MSU Northern (copy)

Carroll’s Brittney Johnson pushes in on MSU-Northern’s Molly Kreycik in the second quarter of a game earlier this season at Carroll.

Focus on the fundamentals.

That’s what junior standout forward Cassidy Hashley said last weekend after the Saints broke a four-game losing streak with a win over Rocky Mountain College.

“We have to lock in on the fundamentals,” Hashley said when asked how the Saints could continue its play displayed against Rocky. “We turn it over way too many times a game. We have to focus on the little things. We have to play hard and go after loose balls.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Saints coach Rachelle Sayers challenged the team’s toughness when it took a lopsided loss to Montana Tech nearly two weeks ago. The Saints, she estimated, weren’t rising to the physicality of other teams and withered in difficult circumstances.

This week, on the road against No. 11 MSU-Northern and Great Falls, the Saints will a chance to show if they are tougher.

“Big as any other game,” Sayers said. “Obviously it’s important for them to secure their home court. I expect a battle.”

Carroll will travel to Havre on Friday to take on the Skylights (15-4, 5-3). The Skylights are led by All-American Natalee Faupel’s 16.72 points per game. The team boats the No. 2 total rebound defense (30.2 per game) and has the No. 4 defense in the nation (53 points allowed).

“They’re extremely well coached,” Sayers said. “Very disciplined on both sides of the floor. Defensively they’re always one of the top teams in the nation. Offensively they just kind of spread it out. They take advantage of any weakness that you have. They’re going to try to get the ball to Faupel and (Sierra) Richards in the paint. (Jacy) Thompsen is somebody that you’re always worried about.”

“They’re not going to make many mistakes. We’re going to cut down on our turnovers. They certainly won’t hurt themselves.”

The Saints stop in the Electric City on Saturday to face the Argos (12-7, 1-7), who haven’t found a rhythm in the Frontier yet. Even so, the Saints will be dialed in to slowing down Stephanie McDonagh (16.5 points per game) and Nneka Nnadi (13.3 points per game) while respecting the shooting of Darah Huertas-Vining.

“It’s going to be another tough game,” Sayers said. “We get the advantage against Northern playing the back to back night. Great Falls gets the advantage of us playing the back-to-back Saturday. They have a lot of options. They’ve been in a rut and they’re going to come out fighting for their lives and playing hard coming back.”

The Saints are led by Hashley’s 15.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Joining her as a nightly force for the Saints are point guard Bailey Pasta and her 10.9 points and 2.8 assists per game and forward Hannah Dean and her 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Dean and Hashley set the tone against Rocky Mountain, dominating the paint as Carroll outscored Rocky 32-16 points in the paint.

“I think obviously it’s a point of emphasis for us because we do have a size advantage,” Sayers said. “If we aren’t dominating the boards and making it hard for people to score in the paint, we’re not doing a good job with the strength of our team. That’s something we’re always working on. Offensive rebounding has been huge for us.”

The Saints tip off against Northern at 6 p.m. Friday.

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