BILLINGS – It ended just before midnight.
After trailing by five with inside two minutes left, third-seeded Oklahoma City scored the next nine points to eliminate second-seeded Carroll College Friday night 60-59 at the NAIA Women’s Basketball Championships.
“I’m definitely not disappointed in those kids,” said Saints coach Rachelle Sayers afterward. “They gave everything they had.”
The Saints took their first lead late in the opening half on an 11-0 run. It took more than three minutes for either team to score in the third quarter.
Carroll led 56-53 with a minute to play, but freshman Mallory Lockhart’s 3-pointer tied it at 56-all and the Stars went up for good on a follow shot with 20 seconds left. Following a Saints turnover, Lockhart, a 95 percent free throw shooter, was intentionally fouled and hit both for a 60-56 OKC lead.
Jaidyn Lyman buried a 3 at the buzzer for Carroll.
Hannah Dean and Brittney Johnson led Carroll in scoring with 15 apiece. All of Johnson’s points came from 3-point range.
Senior Hannah Dean was in quick foul trouble, picking up two less than four minutes into the game, forcing early work for the Saints’ bench.
Carroll’s 26 wins are the most in eight seasons for head coach Rachelle Sayers. The Saints also closed as Frontier Conference tournament champions for the second straight year.
“This team has never quit,” said Sayers. “They haven’t quit all year and just continue to battle. I think the biggest message is to our seniors, what they meant to this program, the leadership they’ve given. Those kids played so hard defensively, in the end they just didn’t have a lot left.
“In the end, their size wore us down.”
Carroll was out-rebounded 46-23 and was outscored in the paint 30-8. OKC’s bench outscored Carroll 33-6. The Stars shot 46 percent for the game and finished 14-21 from the free throw line.
Oklahoma City will play Clarke of Iowa Saturday at 8 p.m. in the quarterfinals.