BILLINGS — Friday night, late Friday night, was a tale of two halves for Rachelle Sayers and the Carroll College women’s basketball team.
The Fighting Saints poured in 22 second-quarter points to take a 36-27 lead over Vanguard (Calif.) at halftime in the second round of the NAIA women’s national basketball tournament. Carroll led by as many as 12 in the first half, but watched Vanguard slowly chip away in the final two quarters, outscoring Carroll 19-8 in the fourth period to earn a 63-55 victory.
The loss ended the season for Carroll.
Guards Bailey Pasta and Jaidyn Lyman each scored 14 points, with Lyman going 9-11 from the free throw line, but Carroll struggled from the field, shooting 30 percent. The Saints made only 14 of 46 field goals, but did connect on 20 of 23 free throws. Still, Vanguard scored when it mattered most, turning an eight-point third-quarter deficit into a brief lead, thanks to a Tania Uluheua field goal. Victoria Chea’s free throws pushed the Lions ahead 44-41, but Christine Denny tied the game with a 3-pointer less than 30 seconds later.
Taylor Salonen’s basket in the lane, coupled with a Dani Wagner free throw, gave the Saints a 47-44 lead after the third quarter. But the Saints couldn’t manage to baskets in the final frame, scoring only two field goals — 3-pointers from Lyman and Oona Harrington — while giving up six to the Lions, five which came in the form of 13 points in the first six minutes of the quarter.
Amber Alexander and Victoria Chea each scored 14 for the Lions, who meet Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Saturday in the quarterfinals.