Carroll Women Basketball Defeats MSU-Northern on the Road - News, Sports and Weather

Carroll Women Basketball Defeats MSU-Northern on the Road

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In the current women's NAIA Coaches Top-25 Poll, Westmont holds the No. 1 spot with a 14-1 record and MSU-Northern sits at No. 2. The one obvious thing that these two teams have in common after Friday night is that they have both lost to Carroll College.
The Saints earned the victory over Westmont on Nov. 15 and Friday the Saints earned the second half of the pair with a 55-49 win over the Skylights at the Armory in Havre.
"Every road win in the frontier is big," head coach Rachelle Sayers said. "Whether they are No. 2 or last in the league it is tough. We haven't beat them in Havre since I have been here and beating a top-two team is obviously a huge deal for us."
Carroll's win is, in fact, the first win over MSU-Northern at the Armory since Feb. 27, 2010 and early it looked like the Saints were going to let that trend continue.
The Saints missed their first seven shots and 12 of the first 13, allowing MSU-N to build an 8-2 lead. Carroll then went on a 9-0 run to take an 11-8 lead early in the second quarter.
The two teams traded leads in the second quarter. Katie Estey hit her first shot of the game with 4:47 left in the half to tie the game at 15-15 she would close the half with six points and added 15 in the second half to lead both teams with 21 points.
The Saints took a 24-21 lead into the break but the Skylights tied the game at 24 with a 3-pointer by Jacy Thompson right out of the gate in the second half. A pair of Cassidy Hashley free throws gave Carroll the lead but MSUN again tied the game at 26 with 7:24 to play.
Another Estey shot gave Carroll the 26-24 lead which they would maintain the rest of the way.
Carroll built a seven point advantage, their largest of the game, four separate times but couldn't pull away from the Lights.
MSUN cut the lead to 45-42 with 5:29 remaining on a Natalee Faupel basketball, foul and ensuing free throw but that is the closest the Skylights would come as the Saints closed the game on a 10-7 run for the 55-49 win.
Estey's big second half was key for the Saints and a common theme for Carroll throughout the season. She has become the unquestioned leader for the Carroll team that is now 13-1 on the season after struggling with illness and injury in 2014-15.
"Katie has added some strength to her game but her playing healthy is the biggest reason why she is doing so well," Sayers said. "This year we have given her the reigns. She is looking to be more aggressive. She really gets our offense going, whether she is scoring or distributing the ball everything runs through her."
Hashley scored 10 points for the Saints and Sarah Chalich added nine on three of four from the three-point line.
The Saints held the MSUN to the lowest point total of the season and tallied 15 steals while forcing 20 Skylight turnovers. Brittney Johnson tallied six steals to pace the Saints on the Northern end of the court.
The energy consumed on defense was part of the reason the Saints struggled shooting the ball.  The Saints were 19 of 52 (36.5 percent) from the field.
"We expended so much energy defensively it hurt us early," Sayers said. "We were happy with our ball movement and I thought we ran the offense well. We didn't start well but we made the shots that we needed to when we made them and that is what counts."
The game was to be expected from two of the top-ranked teams in the country, a closely contested game from start to finish.
"It was a hard-fought battle by both teams. It was exactly what you want when two of the top teams in the country are playing," Sayers said. "They defended us really well. I felt like our pressure took them out of things. I think the fans got their money's worth."
The Saints play another NAIA Elite Eight team on the road tomorrow evening in the University of Great Falls Argos.
"We've been preparing for this for the whole year," Sayers said. "We played three games in Oregon against three teams on three different courts because we knew it was going to be tough in the Frontier. We have a very focused group. We'll get the game plan in for UGF in the morning but we saw them at Vegas and have watched a lot of film. The key is to stay aggressive, stay hungry and focus on us and what we need to do to win."
The Saints and Argos take the court at 5:30 p.m.

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