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DSU beats Carroll in final seconds for first Frontier Conference men's basketball victory

HELENA, Mont. -- The Carroll men came back from a 13-point halftime deficit to take the lead and shot 61 percent from the field.

But the ball didn't bounce their way at the end of Saturday's Frontier Conference thriller.

With 17 seconds left on the clock and the score knotted at 73-all, Carroll freshman Riley King came up with a big defensive board, then lost it as he appeared to try to kick it out to a teammate. Dickinson State reserve Brock Boos came out of the free-for-all with the ball, and knocked it in for the game-winner.

With 2 seconds left, King - a former Missoula Sentinel quarterback - attempted to heave one final Hail Mary pass down to where Brett Ball was waiting beneath the basket. But the ball was intercepted to seal the 75-73 win for DSU, the Hawks first-ever Frontier victory.

"It was just a great game," Dickinson coach Ty Orton said afterward, wiping his brow. "Carroll's always strong, and Brandon (Veltri) is such a good coach. But basketball is a game of highs and lows."

The Blue Hawks had plenty of highs in the first half, when they connected on four consecutive 3-pointers late to stretch their lead to 46-33 at the break. But the second half belonged to the host Saints. A reverse by Nick Jones trimmed DSU's lead to single digits, and Carroll used a 17-3 run to take its first lead of the half with 10:33 left in the game on a Jake Hollifield layup. The Hawks quickly answered with a pair of uncontested 3s, but Noah Kone-Nelson's bucket following an across-the-court assist from Jones tied it up. Carroll regained the lead on a long-distance shot by Jones with 4:23 left as the teams continued the 3-point shooting contest, but Jarek Hansen had the final dagger to tie the game at 73 before Boos' heroics.

"It was a tale of two halves, really," Veltri said after another disappointing defeat, which dropped the Saints to 1-13 overall, 0-3 in conference action. "We seemed a full count behind on defense the first 20 minutes and dug ourselves too big of a hole."

After making adjustments to their zone at halftime - Veltri pointed out they ran just two possessions of man-to-man after the break -- the Saints were able to come up with stops in the second half and put themselves in a position to win down the stretch. They shot 70 percent from the floor in the final period.

"We have a good group of guys who want to win and are playing hard; they're gonna battle for 40 minutes," Veltri said. "We've just gotta find a way to minimize mistakes."

Turnovers and missed free throws proved costly in the end. A turnover with 17 seconds left gave DSU the chance on the other end, and Carroll missed three free throws in the final 4 minutes. The Saints were just 14 of 23 from the stripe Saturday evening and coughed the ball up 16 times.

"Free throws have been a big focus at practice for the last month and a half," Veltri said. "We have good free-throw shooters -- they knock them down in practice. But they're huge. We had nine missed free throws tonight and that dramatically changed the ending as well."

The Blue Hawks weren't particularly strong from the stripe, either, shooting just 54 percent at the line. But Orton was pleased with his team's ball-handling abilities, as DSU finished with a season-low nine turnovers.

"I felt like it came down to both teams went after the other team's weakness and attacked it very well," Orton said. "The ball fell right for us tonight ... but we've got to pick up our defense."

Dickinson (7-10, 1-2) finished with 13 3-pointers in the contest, led by a 4-for-5 night by Hansen.

"We fell in love with (the 3) tonight," Orton said. "We have some kids who can shoot the ball, but we have to know when to shoot those and when not to."

Johnie Sanders led four DSU players in double-digit scoring, with 15 points. Robbie Morey and Hansen each chipped in a dozen, while James Hayden had 10 off the bench.

Jones again led the Saints with 22 points, while Chris McGrath matched a season-high with 14 - including 12 before halftime. Ball scored 11 points - seven of those from the stripe -- and he and Jones each pulled down eight rebounds to lead Carroll to a 36-26 advantage on the boards.

The Saints will try again for that elusive Frontier win next Wednesday night at 7:30, when they host I-15 rival Montana Tech (10-7, 1-2). Carroll is still winless at home this season.

DICKINSON STATE (7-9, 1-2 Frontier): Ty Ackleson 2-5 0-0 5, Anthony Hodges 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Sullivan 0-0 0-0 0, Johnie Sanders 6-13 2-4 15, Robbie Morey 3-8 0-0 8, James Hayden 5-7 0-0 10, Brock Boos 3-7 0-0 9, Isiah Thomas 0-1 2-4 2, Phillip Johnson Jr. 1-2 0-1 2, Jarek Hansen 4-7 0-0 12, John Hanstad 4-11 2-2 12. Totals 28-61 6-11 75.

CARROLL COLLEGE (1-13, 0-3 Frontier): Noah Kone-Nelson 4-4 0-0 8, Brett Ball 2-3 7-8 11, Riley King 2-6 0-0 4, Jake Hollifield 3-3 0-2 7, Nick Williams 1-2 0-0 2, Chris McGrath 4-5 2-2 14, Dennis Mikelonis 2-4 1-4 5, Nick Jones 7-14 4-7 22. Totals 25-41 14-23 73.

Halftime: DSU 46-33. Total fouls: DSU 16, CC 11. 3-point goals: DSU 13-30 (Ackelson 1-1, Sanders 1-3, Morey 2-5, Hayden 0-1, Boos 3-7, Hansen 4-5, Hanstad 2-8), CC 9-16 (Hollifield 1-1, McGrath 4-5, Mikelonis 0-2, Jones 4-8). Rebounds: DSU 26 (Hansen 4, Sanders 4), CC 36 (Ball 8, Jones 8). Assists: DSU 16 (Morey 8), CC 17 (three with 1). Steals: DSU 8, CC 4. Blocks: DSU 0, CC 2. Turnovers: DSU 11, CC 17.