(Editor's note: Carroll College athletics release)
BUTTE -- Jovan Sljivancanin went for a career-high 34 points and 13 rebounds and the Carroll College Fighting Saints men's basketball opened their season up in outstanding fashion, defeating No. 18-ranked Southern Oregon (NAIA D-II) 79-58.
"We carried over our intensity from practice this week to the game," Saints coach Kurt Paulson said. "The players earned the victory with their attention to detail on defense. We out-rebounded them and that was key as well."
Carroll started the game on a 14-2 run, playing a tenacious brand of defense that looked more reminiscent of a midseason form than a young team learning how to play together. Southern Oregon (0-1) couldn't find it's rhythm, finishing the first half with a meager 16 points while shooting just 25 percent from the field.
The Saints, meanwhile, surged to a 39-16 lead. Any growing pains that were expected of a team that played five freshmen on Friday and eight underclassmen, were nowhere to be found. Sure the Saints had a few lapses but throughout the game, Carroll never let SOU get comfortable.
Sljivancanin, who came on strong for the Saints a season ago, blew up the box score with his totals, while senior Dane Warp added 12 points and a game-high four assists and freshman Dennis Flowers III finished with 10 points.
The Raiders punched back in the second half, outscoring the Saints 42-40, though most of that damage came from the free-throw line, as the Saints couldn't get to the line, shooting just nine free throws, while SOU shot 25, making 19.
The Raiders never truly made a run at the Saints.
Carroll out-rebounded the experience-laden Raiders 25-21, a fact Paulson pointed out had a big impact in the victory.
Aaron Borich led the Raiders with 17 points.
The Saints will face Eastern Oregon tomorrow at 5 p.m. The Mountaineers are coached by former Saints assistant Carlito Labarda Jr, who is assisted by former Saints assistant Jesse Repay.
NOTES: Brendan Temple had the first dunk of the season for the Saints, stealing the ball and flushing the ball in the first half. Sljivancanin bettered his previous career-high of 23 points by a whopping 11 points.