The Carroll College women’s basketball team found out how to overcome adversity on Thursday night.
The answer was to keep shooting.
The No. 8-ranked Saints made only one of their first eight shots and weathered a late run, but ended up rallying to defeat No. 16 Lewis-Clark State 60-53 in a road Frontier Conference game on Thursday night.
It was a win that coach Rachelle Sayers said couldn’t have been any bigger.
“This is a tough place to play, and LC State is a team is one of the dangerous teams in our conference,” Sayers said in a phone interview with 406mtsports.com after the game. “Our goal was to charge them off the 3-point line and we limited them to just two makes. I’m so proud of this team right now.”
It seemed like no one on either team could make a basket to start the game.
After senior Hannah Dean scored in the opening minute, the Saints missed their next seven shots. LC State also struggled, making just two of its first 12 shots, but the Warriors held on tightly to a 6-2 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Carroll finally found its touch with less than four minutes left in the first quarter as Saints senior guard, Brittney Johnson, hit a 3-pointer, followed by a score by Taylor Salonen.
The Saints went on a 9-0 run to end the quarter. Their previous deficit turned into an eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a track meet to start and the pace was so frantic,” Sayers said. “We finally were able to settle down and hit some shots.”
Carroll rode the momentum in the second quarter as Johnson hit her second 3-pointer.
While Johnson was leading the starters, the Saints also received a spark off the bench from sophomore Emma Madsen.
Madsen hit a 3-pointer, followed by a layup as the transfer from NCAA Division I Cal Baptist finished with six points, all in the first half.
Midway through the second quarter, the Saints led a 27-15 lead.
“We don’t win without our bench,” Sayers said. “I thought she came in and hit some key shots.”
Lewis-Clark State cut into the lead with a 3-pointer by Hannah Burland and a score by senior center Jossilyn Blackman, but the Saints still held a 35-23 halftime lead.
Blackman was one of four players above 6 feet in the post, but the Saints limited her two a mere eight points in the first half.
“It’s tough because they are so big and they keep so much pressure on you,” Sayers said. “It’s such a tough matchup.”
Carroll kept pressuring Lewis-Clark State in the second half as Dean started to get involved with a pair of scores.
The Warriors found some offense when Blackman made baskets down low, but every time they made a run, the Saints would answer.
Lewis-Clark finally showed some life after six straight points by Kiara Burlage followed by a layup by Abbie Johnson. The Warriors were down by a single score with 1:30 left.
Carroll scored on the next possession when Christine Denny made a jump shot in the paint and the Saints would not look back.
With time running out, the Warriors tried to extend the game by fouling, but Danielle Wagner hit four consecutive free throws to seal the win.
Johnson finished with a game-high 16 points while Denny finished with seven points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Carroll continues its road trip on Saturday when it travels to Dillon to face No. 4 Montana Western and preseason MVP senior point guard Brianna King.
“You feel a lot better going into that game after getting a win here,” Sayers said. “The kids are in a good place and they know how to win close games.”