GREAT FALLS — Revenge is a dish best served at home, as the University of Providence Argos topped the Carroll College Fighting Saints 77-57 to earn the title of Frontier Conference men's basketball champions on Tuesday.
The Fighting Saints downed the Providence Argos a little over a year ago to knock them out of the running for the title.
Nearly everything went right for the Argos on Tuesday. The Fighting Saints' offense struggled to find its footing early in the contest as the Argos surged.
“I thought we locked them down defensively, we rebounded better and had a lot of offensive boards," said Providence coach Steve Keller. "I told those guys, if they put in the effort on defense, we’re very, very good. And we executed our offense (Tuesday) and knocked down some wide-open 3s.”
Jovan Sljivancanin and Brendan Temple were the only two Carroll College players to reach double-digit points in the game at 13 and 11, respectively. Sljivancanin and Temple each contributed six rebounds to the effort.
The Fighting Saints were able to chip away at the Argos’ lead through the first half before a Saints turnover turned into a Rashee Stocks layup that put the Argos up 32-25 through 20 minutes of play.
The Saints were never able to bring the game any closer in the second half. The Argos' offensive onslaught consisting of Stocks, Zaccheus Darko-Kelly and Jaxsen Hashley put up bucket after bucket to balloon the game's score well out of reach of the Fighting Saints before the game's eventual end at 77-57.
Stocks shot a remarkable 70% from the floor, and 80% from 3-point range, to finish the night with a game-high 20 points with three rebounds and two assists. Darko-Kelly posted a double-double consisting of 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Hashley added 10 points to the mix.
Cap Uzan also was perfect from beyond the arc for the Argos and added 11 points and seven assists.
“These guys deserve all the credit, we had an amazing year in the pandemic," Keller said. "And give credit to all those guys, they’ve worked hard. And we had new guys meshing in, and they meshed in quickly. You lose two games in this league, that’s good. We talked about three things: play hard, play smart and play together, and they did those things.”
With the win, the Argos solidify their spot in the NAIA national tournament and finish Frontier play at a near-perfect 17-2. The Saints are 17-7 and will hope to earn an at-large bid into the tournament when the NAIA announces the matchups on Thursday.
“We go to Omaha, Nebraska now and we have to win one game. There will be two teams out there and we don’t know who they are," Keller said. "These guys have been resilient. We’re not to Kansas City yet, you have to win that game. But it would be awesome if we could get there. There will be 16 teams, and we have a chance.”