Carleton added the Storm, who finish their season at 17-12 — a five-game improvement from last year — attempted to prepare for the Hilltoppers pressure defense.
"We don't run that, so it's hard to simulate that in practice,'' he said. "We got better at it later in the game, as we got some layups and good looks after the first quarter. We just didn't make enough of them or get to the free-throw line enough off of those opportunities inside.''
While Salt Fork made just 37.5 percent of its shots (18-of-48), Schlarman counter by making 45.7 (21-of-46).
"Give Schlarman credit, they hit some big shots,'' Carleton said. "The last time we played them, the (Sierra) Bell girl couldn't hit anything from the outside. Today, she stepped up and did what good players are supposed to do.''
Bell, a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard, was not only a key contributor on the defensive end for the Hilltoppers with a game-high nine steals, but she also scored a season-high 31 points.
"That was the first one I've had all season,'' said Bell of scoring more than 30 points. Her career-high is 32 points from her freshman season. "But, all of that came from our work on the defensive end and from my teammates. We were doing a good job of getting steals and getting out for fast-break opportunities.''
In addition to her scoring and defense, Bell also finished with a game-high four assists.
"A strong teaching point this year for Sierra has been to play under control and pick your moments,'' Peoples said. "She is starting to grow as a player.
"Sierra needs to understand that she is surrounded by good players, if she gets them the ball in the right place at the right times.''
Another aspect of her game on Monday night was that Bell scored 15 of her 31 after turning her ankle late in the third quarter and she was 11-of-17 at the free-throw line in the final nine minutes of the contest.