HELENA – No. 10 Carroll College and No. 18 Rocky Mountain College played another tightly contested Frontier Conference women's basketball game, with both defenses strutting their stuff, but it was the Battlin’ Bears who pulled away thanks to strong free-throw shooting on Saturday in the PE Center, 58-50.
“We shot extremely well from the foul line,” Rocky coach Wes Keller said. “We made our foul shots and helped us pull it out.”
Carroll (15-6, 7-3) had opportunities late, but each time the Saints drew within a single possession, a turnover or mistake doomed the Saints.
Rocky was led by Markaela Francis' 16 points.
No Saints player cracked double digits.
With the Saints’ trailing by one, freshman guard Christine Denny looked to initiate offense. Brooke Jones swatted the ball out of her hands and Rocky built a three-point lead.
It was one of many possessions the Saints would have liked to have back.
“I think we got too conservative,” Saints coach Rachelle Sayers said. “We got a big turnover and then Christine Denny had a chance to attack the rim. We end up turning it over and they come back. That was a big play. That’s a freshman. You can’t fault her for trying to settle in and get to offense. I think she’s good enough to make that play.”
Rocky (17-3, 7-3) had fewer field goal attempts, got outrebounded and started the game by giving up 18 points in the first quarter. Keller attributed that to his defensive calls.
“To start the game, I had this wild idea that I was going to play some zone early and they kind of got comfortable and hit some threes,” Keller said. “After the first quarter we decided that if we’re going to win this game we’re going to man them up and lock them down.”
Rocky held Carroll to 9 and 8 points in the second and third quarters, and Battlin’ Bears were able to hold their lead for the rest of the game after obtaining it in the third quarter.
Carroll took 13 more shots than the Battlin’ Bears and pulled down 12 offensive rebounds, but the Saints’ couldn’t convert those extra looks into points, shooting only 34 percent from the field.
“That’s the bottom line,” Sayers said. “The shots we were getting we didn’t knock down. I thought we got good shots. I thought the right people were taking them. They just didn’t fall. Kids played hard. Rebounded well.”
The win helped the Battlin’ Bears secure a 2-0 record on the week. The loss split Carroll at 1-1.