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Cahill, Saints explode in 2nd half to beat DSU women

HELENA, Mont. -- Carroll College just needed 20 minutes to get warmed up.

After an uncharacteristic slow start, the Saints women's basketball team used a big second half to pull away from Dickinson State and notch a 69-49 win Saturday in the PE Center. The victory moves Carroll to 3-0 in league play this season, tied with Westminster for the Frontier Conference lead.

"I was just talking to Jackie (Gebhardt), the only other player on the team that I came in with, and I said 'I don't know that I've ever been 3-0 in conference,'" said senior Torrie Cahill, who finished with a team-best 16 points, six rebounds and four steals. "Preseason was frustrating at times, but it just seems like everything clicked overnight. I knew our team had the potential to be this good."

The Saints (9-5 overall) didn't lead until the 13:36 mark of the first half, when Megan Patterson hit her first 3 of the game to put Carroll up 14-12. The Blue Hawks kept it close right up to the break with strong perimeter shooting -- they made 71 percent from long distance in the first half. An 11-0 run culminated in a seven-point lead for Carroll with 6:06 left in the first, but the hosts held just a slim 32-29 advantage at halftime. Good defensive rebounding kept DSU in the game, and the visitors were outpacing Carroll on the glass 17-14 at the break. Both teams were cold at the end of the first, with neither squad scoring in the final 3 minutes, 28 seconds.

"I think we were just a step slow," Carroll coach Rachelle Sayers said of the first half. "They were crashing the boards and we were tentative, we just seemed to have trouble keeping them in front of us."

Sayers said one adjustment the Saints made at halftime was they let Joey O'Neill play behind the post rather than fronting, and the move paid off. Carroll never trailed in the second half, and held its first double-digit lead with 13:49 left in the game after a basket by Bailey Snelling. An 11-0 run put the Saints up by 20, and DSU struggled to close the gap with its leading scorer on the bench in foul trouble.

Carroll outscored the Blue Hawks 37-20 in the second half and finished the game with a 40-32 rebounding advantage. The Saints also played a clean game for the second straight contest, with just eight turnovers this time. That's a number Sayers likes to see after Carroll coughed it up 24 times against the University of Regina.

"I definitely think we're getting better with the things we can control," Sayers said. "If we take care of the basketball, rebound, and make our free throws we're going to win games."

The Saints shot 45 percent for the game and 83 percent from the free-throw line.

A young Dickinson State squad just nine players deep after a slew of injuries remains winless in conference play, despite the valiant effort Saturday.

"I'm really happy with our effort," said first-year DSU coach Caleb Harrison. "Carroll made some really good adjustments at halftime and honestly they just wore us down, I think. They're long and athletic. But some things we were doing on offense, particularly our screening, has really improved."

After shooting 42 percent from the field in the first half, the Hawks made just 7 of 29 field goals (24 percent) in the second, including 0 for 7 from 3-point range.

Jordan Bagley (15 points), Patterson (13) and Snelling (10) rounded out the Saints in double figures scoring, despite none of them having more than six points at the break.

"Anyone can come off the bench and lead us in scoring on any given night," Cahill said, referencing the Saints' depth. "There's no question we're right where we need to be."

Janae Moore scored 15 points -- 11 in the first half -- to lead DSU before fouling out. Ashley Jelly added 12 and Dawne Degel had a game-high eight boards.

"We're not where we want to be, but we're building a foundation for the future," said Harrison, whose team slips to 5-12, 0-3 in its first year in the Frontier.

The Carroll women couldn't be happier with where they sit, but Sayers is just taking it one game at a time. The Saints play Montana Tech next, on Wednesday in the PE Center. Tip is 5:30 p.m.

NOTES: Kalee Junkermier sat out Saturday with her right wrist wrapped. Junkermier suffered the injury to her shooting hand in Thursday night's win over UGF. Junkermier said she expects she'll be ready to go Wednesday.

DICKINSON STATE (5-12, 0-3 Frontier): Janae Moore 6-11 2-2 15, Jess Bygate 3-7 2-4 8, Lorna Shepherd 1-5 0-0 3, Yianna Nadeau 0-5 0-0 0, Mariah Duran 3-9 2-2 9, Dawne Degel 0-3 2-2 2, Ashley Jelly 5-9 0-0 12, Jenna Cabello 0-5 0-0 0, Jaylyn Klauzer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 8-10 49.

CARROLL COLLEGE (9-5, 3-0 Frontier): Joey O'Neill 2-9 0-0 4, Torrie Cahill 6-10 3-4 16, Jordan Pfau 0-1 0-0 0, Megan Patterson 4-12 3-4 13, Bailey Snelling 3-6 2-2 10, Katie Estey 2-2 2-2 7, Cassie Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Jackie Gebhardt 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Johnston 2-2 0-0 4, Chelsea Chandler 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Bagley 5-9 5-6 15. Totals 24-53 15-18 69.

Halftime: CC 33-29. Total fouls: DSU 15, CC 14. Fouled out: DSU, Moore. 3-point goals: DSU 5-14 (Moore 1-2, Shepherd 1-3, Nadeau 0-2, Duran 1-2, Jelly 2-5), CC 6-13 (Cahill 1-2, Pfau 0-1, Patterson 2-5, Snelling 2-3, Estey 1-1, Bagley 0-1). Rebounds: DSU 32 (Degel 8), CC 40 (Cahill 6). Assists: DSU 7 (Duran 3), CC 12 (Patterson 4). Steals: DSU 6, CC 8. Blocks: DSU 1, CC 4. Turnovers: DSU 14, CC 8.