Game recap courtesy of Carroll Sports Information.
HELENA, Mont. - The sixth-ranked Carroll College men's basketball team picked a crucial win over No. 19 Lewis-Clark State 69-64 Thursday at the PE Center in Helena. The win sets up a winner-takes-all scenario against No. 10 Montana Western on Saturday for the top seed in the Frontier Conference Tournament and a bye to the semifinals.
Western has locked up at least a share of the conference title Thursday after picking up an 82-79 win over Rocky Mountain, but the Saints can still claim the top seed with a win over the Bulldogs.
The opportunity is an excellent one, Carroll has a chance to lock up their second-consecutive conference title Saturday, but that opportunity wouldn't have come without big plays down the stretch by Carroll's veteran leadership.
"I'm impressed with the fellas' moxie," head coach Carson Cunningham said. "That was a tough battle. Lewis Clark-State plays hard. Fortunately, we were able to get a W. The Fighting Saints' ability to get stops and hit some timely buckets was great to see. They're working really hard. Saturday night is going to be fun."
Lewis-Clark controlled the early going and built a 17-11 lead with 10:17 to play, but the Saints battled back to 24-23 lead with just under five to play in the first half. The game was tied at 28 with 3:51 to play before the Saints closed the half on an 11-0 run to take a 39-28 lead into the half.
The Saints never trailed in the second half, but the Warriors made it interesting.
Carroll extended the lead to 49-32 with 16:46 to play before Lewis-Clark began to chip away. LCSC cut the Carroll advantage to 59-56 with 3:08 left, but every shot from then on was answered by the Saints.
Junior Alejandro Santos Piqueras hit a bucket with 2:48 to play and after a pair of LCSC free throws, hit a three-pointer to extend Carroll's lead to 64-58 with2:01 to play.
LCSC hit a corner three-pointer, but senior point guard Lorel Johnson answered with two huge plays. He hit a contested three-pointer to put Carroll up 67-51 with 29 seconds to play and forced LC's Race Martin who has a significant size and weight advantage over Johnson to miss a layup, gathering the rebound and clinching the win with 16 seconds to play.
Ife Kalejaiye hit a pair of free throws with eight seconds left, and the Warriors added a three-pointer in the final seconds to close the scoring the 69-64 win.
Ryan Imhoff led all scorers with 19 points, Johnson and Piqueras added 11 points each and Match Burnham and Ife Kalejaiye scored 10.
The Saints were 23-50 (46 percent) from the field and 9-21 (24.9 percent) from the three-point line.
Martin led LCSC with 17, Dana Abe scored 12 and Andre McCowan scored 11. The Warriors were 24-52(45.3 percent) and 5-16 (31.3 percent) from the three-point line.
The Saints host Western at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the PE Center. Senior night activities take place just before tipoff.