HELENA — Carroll College men's basketball team coach Kurt Paulson wants to be known for having a great shooting team.
After Tuesday night against Montana Tech, his Saints were on their way.
Carroll shot 62 percent from the field and 58 percent from behind the 3-point line en route to a 79-61 Frontier Conference win at the PE Center.
But this isn’t a new feat. The Saints are leading all of NAIA Division I in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
“We run stuff where we are trying to get good percentage shots and we have a really good point guard that gets us the ball where we need to get it,” Paulson said.
Carroll didn’t waste any time finding the bottom of net.
Senior Matt Wyman put the Saints up 7-4 after a layup in the paint and later Jovan Sljivancanin hit a jump shot to increase the lead to 16-13 with 12 minutes left in the first half.
“The stuff we run if the type of offense I like, but you have to tailor what you do with the personnel you have,” Paulson said. “Obviously we have some great shooters and want to get them the ball in spots they can operate in.”
Carroll increased its lead to as many as nine points in the first half after Wyman hit another shot in the paint, but it didn’t end there. Senior Ife Kalejaiye ended the half, hitting his first of four 3-pointers.
Not only did the Saints hold onto a 37-32 lead while going back to the locker room, but also made 65 percent of their shots.
“Taking good looks and taking your shot is the most important thing,” Kalejaiye said.
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Montana Tech rallied to get within a single possession Carroll’s hot shooting continued throughout the second half.
Senior Match Burnham took a backseat to his teammates after getting into a bit of foul trouble, but watched as Kalejaiye hit a 3-pointer followed by a make by Sljivancanin. Wyman added a few free throws as the Saints held a 49-40 lead
Wyman finished with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds.
“Everyone can be a threat out there,” Burnham said. “Matt proved it today.”
Burnham finally made his presence known with a few baskets but finished with just 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting.
Carroll finally started to cool down late in the second half, but the lead did not diminish.
The Saints pushed forward after two more scores by Wyman and sealed the game when Kalejaiye hit a step back 3-pointer from the wing in the face of the Orediggers.
“It feels good,” Kalejsaiye said. “When you feel like you are in a good rhythm, you feel like everything you throw up is going to go in.”
While the Saints have seen success shooting the basketball nearly all season, the one conference game they lost was against Rocky Mountain, the same team they will play Thursday.
“We have to play a lot better,” Paulson said. “We had a lot of good looks, we just didn’t make them.
But Paulson has faith. After all, the Saints are the top shooting team in the country.