(RMC Athletics release)
HELENA – In a game between two of the top defenses in the NAIA, No. 18 Rocky Mountain College fell just short in the Frontier Conference Tournament championship game, losing to No. 11 Carroll College 46-42 on Tuesday night at the Carroll PE Center.
Rocky drops to 23-8 overall on the season. They were looking for their first Frontier title since 1988.
Things started well for Carroll (24-7) as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest. They would then go nearly seven minutes before scoring again as the Battlin’ Bears scored nine straight points to take a lead they never gave back.
Rocky’s defense continued to keep the Saints off the scoreboard for much of the second quarter to help them build a seven-point cushion late in the quarter. Carroll scored their fifth basket of the first half right before time expired to send the game to intermission with the Battlin’ Bears leading 19-14.
Carroll got the lead back with a 9-0 run in the third quarter during which they held Rocky to four straight misses and forced one turnover. After Markaela Francis and Hailee Farstveet scored to get Rocky within one, Carroll hit a triple to beat the buzzer and take a 32-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
The teams would give the lead back-and-forth in the early stages of the fourth quarter before Carroll got five straight, including a three from Brittney Johnson with 1:50 to play. Francis got Rocky back within one possession at the 1:30 mark and then Rocky got a stop and the ball back.
Mikayla Jones shot to tie the game with 40 seconds to play was blocked and Carroll converted at the foul line to hold off the Battlin’ Bears.
Rocky ended the night shooting 29.2 percent from the field with just 14 baskets. They hit 3 of 10 from beyond the arc and had 29 rebounds. Carroll shot just 34.1 percent and went 4 of 8 from three, all in the second half.
Farstveet led the Battlin’ Bears with 13 points and had all three makes from beyond the arc. She also distributed two assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Francis finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Brooke Jones led the team with eight rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.
Hannah Dean scored 15 points to lead Carroll while Johnson added 10.
Rocky is the host of the NAIA National Championships from March 14-20 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. They will learn their first round opponent on Wednesday at 4 p.m. via a video on the NAIA Facebook page at Facebook.com/PlayNAIA.