HELENA – The No. 15 Montana Western women's basketball team closed the regular season with a 51-42 win over No. 11 Carroll College on Saturday night.
Western coach Lindsay Woolley gave an exaggerated sigh afterward in the PE Center.
“That’s a lot of work for a meaningless game,” Woolley joked.
No. 11 Carroll College (22-7, 14-4) wrapped up the Frontier Conference regular season and the No. 1 seed in the postseason with a victory on Thursday. Western (23-7, 13-5), too, was locked in as the No. 2 seed ahead of the game.
“Their zone has gotten better and better as the year has gone on,” Woolley said. “We knew we had to be a little creative against instead of just trying to bang it in and run simple high-low stuff. Our strengths are our guards. Their strengths are their bigs.”
Western forced the Saints into 15 turnovers and scored 21 points off those turnovers as both teams shot low percentages from the field. Western found a big advantage at the free-throw line, knocking down 13 of 16 attempts.
Neither team budged much through the first two quarters. Western held a six-point and five-point lead for a few minutes in the first quarter.
Brianna King gave the Bulldogs some quality offense, stealing from Carroll ball handlers and rushing down the court for layups. The second time she did it in the second quarter, she finished a 3-point play after drawing a foul and making her shot.
The defensive slugfest led to a 19-18 Western advantage at halftime. It was the type of half where rhythm was hard to find. No scorer put in more than two baskets.
Western built its biggest lead at the start of the fourth quarter after King drew a foul and finished a tough shot. It was the start of a wave of Bulldogs scores to come.
Savannah Bignell turned the Saints over on one end and drilled a 3-pointer on the other. A possession later, Bignell made the extra pass to Paige Holmes for another 3-pointer.
Bailey Pasta broke the momentum up a with a 3-pointer, but the Bulldogs went back to work.
King made a tough basket, causing her body to absorb contact and finish in the lane against a taller defender
Western had a chance to add to its 10-point lead and just as King drew all the Saints’ attention and looked to lay the ball off to a flashing cutter, Hannah Dean rotated over on the weak side and came up with a big block.
Jaidyn Lyman raced down the court for the layup, but it was too late to spark any type of comeback.
King milked the clock and still found a way to get to the basket for a layup.
King led all scorers with 20 points, shooting 6-for-14 from the field.
Redshirt freshman Paige Holmes also gave the Bulldogs 14 points.
Carroll received 11 poitns from Pasta on 4-for-14 shooting.
No other Saint racked double figures.
Carroll has a bye in the first round of the Frontier Conference tournament.
Western will host No. 7 seed Montana State-Northern.
Former Carroll College soccer player Payton Netz completed Carroll’s halftime shot for cash contest, winning $1,000.