Game recap courtesy of Carroll Sports Information.
HELENA, Mont. - The No. 6 Carroll College men's basketball team never trailed en route to a 79-67 win over Rocky Mountain to advance to its third Frontier Conference Championship game in three years.
The Saints (26-5, 13-5 FC) jumped out to a 5-0 lead and led 16-10 with 11:41 to play in the first half before Rocky (18-14, 8-10 FC) went on an 8-2 run and tied the game at 18 with 6:42 left in the half. The Saints then went on an 11-2 run to go ahead 29-20 with three minutes to play, that would prove to be the difference in the first half, and the Saints went into the locker room up 35-26.
Early in the second half, the Battlin' Bears cut the Carroll lead to 40-39 with 15:44 to play, but the Saints responded with a 6-0 run and eventually extended the lead to 52-42 with 11:31 to play.
Rocky made one more run to cut the deficit to 62-59 with 3:23 to play, but the Saints answered with a pair of buckets from Match Burnham and Alejandro Santos Piqueras to extend the lead back to 67-59. Carroll kept the Bears at arm's length for the remainder and earned the 79-67 win.
"It was a fun battle," head coach Carson Cunningham said. "I was impressed by the Fighting Saints' ability to make big plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor. They showed guts. Rocky played tough; hit some impressive shots. They're challenging to deal with. Fortunately, we were able to get the victory."
The win gives the Saints a rematch of last Saturday's game against Montana Western for the title Monday at the PE Center. Carroll picked up an impressive 82-62 win over the Bulldogs in the regular-season finale, but the playoffs bring out a whole new animal.
"Now it's on to yet another mighty challenge on Monday," Cunningham said. "We're hoping our great fans will come out and make some noise."
Carroll was 29-56 (51.8 percent) from the field and 5-18 (27.8 percent) from the three-point line. Ryan Imhoff led Carroll with 18 points on 7-14 shooting and added three assists.
Ife Kalejaiye added 13 points and a team-high six rebounds. Match Burnham added 12, and Lorel Johnson scored 10.
Rocky was 27-56 (48.2 percent) from the field and 8-25 (32 percent) from the three-point line. Craig Wilmore scored a game-high 21 points, Satchel McDonald added 13 and Jared Samuelson scored 10. Rocky tallied 18 turnovers.
Tickets for Monday's championship game against Western go on sale Saturday at the PE Center at 9 a.m. to season ticket holders and for general admission. Season ticket holders have until 12 p.m. Saturday to pick up their tickets before the reserved go on sale to the general public on Sunday at 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The ticket office opens as usual at 9 a.m. Monday. Fans can purchase tickets at the PE Center Front Office or calling 447-4480.