(Editors note: Carroll College media release)
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The No. 23 Carroll College Fighting Saints used their lessons from Saturday to take down Benedictine 90-72 in the Cactus Classic at Chandler Gilbert Community College on Monday.
The Fighting Saints (7-3) took the lead on the back of their tenacious defense and dominance in the paint. Carroll scored 60 of its 90 points in the paint for the game. Four Saints scored in double figures, led by Jovan Sljivancanin’s near triple-double of 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Dane Warp (13), Dennis Flowers III (12 points, eight steals) and Ifeanyi Okeke (11 points, eight rebounds) joined him in double figures.
“Obviously pleased with the bounce back,” Saints coach Kurt Paulson said. "The kids responded well. We had a tough game on Saturday against a very good Mount Vernon team. Sometimes you need to evaluate what you’re doing and make some adjustments.”
The Saints started the game by attacking the Redhawks in the paint, as Brendan Temple and Sljivancanin both got scores inside before Warp drew contact and got to the free throw line.
From there, the Saints enacted control.
Carroll’s defense flustered the Redhawks (8-5), forcing them into tough shots and turnovers all throughout the first half. Benedictine’s offense, which came into the game averaging 90 points per game, couldn’t break through against the Saints’ defense.
If the Saints weren’t outright forcing a turnover, they were getting deflections and tips. The chief culprit was Flowers, harassing ball handlers all morning.
In one notable sequence, Flowers forced a turnover and found Okeke breaking down the court. Okeke finished with an emphatic dunk.
“I thought our guards did a tremendous job of getting up and pressuring their guards,” Paulson said. “Dennis Flowers had multiple steals. Shamrock (Campbell) as well. That led to offense on the other end. Sometimes you need to evaluate what you’re doing and speed the game up in certain ways.”
The Saints had seven steals in the first half alone, six of those credited to Flowers.
Benedictine found some offense in the second half, but the Saints found more. Carroll outscored Benedictine 46-45 in the second half. As Carroll kept playing with a free-flowing offense, the defense kept pressure on.
During a game where the deep-ball didn’t drop for the Saints, Carroll found other the ways to score -- and score consistently. The Saints shot just 24 percent (5 for 21) from deep, but converted 38 of 71 of its shots from the field (53 percent).
Five players scored in double figures for the Redhawks, led by Henry Galinato’s 14.
The Saints close out the Cactus Classic with a top-25 matchup against No. 21 Arizona Christian. The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off on Tuesday.
“We have a very tough Arizona Christian team that we play (Tuesday) tonight,” Paulson said. “We’ll have a chance to see them live (Monday). They’re a talented group. We know they’re a national-tournament caliber team. They made a deep run last year. They’ll be a good matchup for our young group.”