RENO - Carson let two first-half double-digit leads slip away much to the chagrin of coach Nathan Tolbert.
That wasn't the case in the second half.
The Senators used a big 12-3 run at the end of the third quarter, and then outscored McQueen 15-7 in the final three-plus minutes of the game to walk away with a 62-48 win Tuesday night in a Division I girls crossover basketball game.
Carson, led by Natali Salas' 18 points, improved to 2-1 in league heading into Thursday's Sierra League match-up with Damonte Ranch at 5:15.
"I was never afraid that we were going to lose the game," Tolbert said. "I knew we would pull it out."
It certainly wasn't a pretty game, as Carson shot 33 percent and turned the ball over 30 times, while McQueen shot 33 percent and had 26 turnovers.
The teams were tied at 27 after the first 16 minutes, and McQueen got a 3-pointer from Emma White and a bucket from Sadaria McAlister for a 32-29 lead with 4:48 left in the third period.
Enter sophomore Madison Preston with specific instructions - stick with White. Preston did her job so well that White missed her next five shots and didn't score again until there was less than a minute left in the period.
"They told me to stay with her," Preston said. "She was one of their top scorers. She's fast. There were some hard screens to get around. I was just trying to stay in front of her."
In that span, Carson had gone on a 9-1 surge to take a 38-33 lead with 51 seconds left, and the Senators never trailed again.
Preston got the ball rolling with back-to-back hoops, and after a McQueen free throw, Carly Bachmann gave the Senators the lead for good with two layups in a span of 25 seconds. White scored to make it 35-33, but a free throw by Elena Thurman and a buzzer-beating basket by Salas made it 41-35 after three.
This was Salas' best scoring game of the season, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
"She's been working on a couple of issues, and she is ready to put them away," Tolbert said. "One of the things she's been doing is just putting her head down and going to the basket. It's not that she's looking down, she just makes a decision and goes."
McQueen wouldn't go away, however, cutting the lead to 47-41 after a White drive and two free throws by Jordyn Jackson.
A basket by Maddi Saarem, one by Thurman and two by Savannah White keyed an 8-4 run and got Carson's lead to double-digits again, 55-45, with 2 minutes left on their way to the win.
Carson started the game like it finished it.
Carson grabbed an early 14-4 lead on the strength of seven points from Saarem, who would finish the game with 11. McQueen fought back with four straight points, but Carson strung together a 7-4 run, five by Salas, for a 21-10 lead with 6:06 left in the half. McQueen fought back for a 27-all tie thanks to a half-ending 9-2 run.
"We got a little tired," Tolbert said. "I didn't have a good balanced group out there. We made sure we did that in the second half.
"I'm still learning the team," Tolbert said. "It was rough (in the first half). This was definitely a team win."
JV GIRLS: Solid free throw shooting and strong pressure defense gave the Carson JV girls team a 42-27 win over McQueen.
Michelle Perry scored 15 points and Natalie Young added 11 to lead the Senators.
FRESHMEN GIRLS: Serena Miller made back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers en route to 16 points as the Carson freshmen girls topped McQueen, 49-23.
Bailey Allen added 12 points and four rebounds. Melissa Glanzman added seven points along with five steals and three assists.