LACEY - It looked hopeless.
Trailing by 14 points with less than six minutes remaining, Saint Martin’s looked like it was out of hope against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday in women’s basketball.
But the Saints finished with a 13-0 run, but lost a 67-66 heartbreaker when Dara Zack’s 25-footer bounced off the rim at the buzzer in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest at Marcus Pavilion.
“I thought it was going in,” Zack said. “It looked good.”
Zack finished with a season-high 31 points, the only Saint to score in double figures.
With his team trailing by one point with 30 seconds to play, Saints coach Tim Healy took a timeout and set up a play for Zack. She got the ball in the corner and popped a 15-foot baseline jumper that bounced off.
“We wanted the ball in her hands,” Healy said. “She got the shot we wanted. It just didn’t go in.”
Saint Martin’s got another chance when Northwest Nazarene’s Falissa Smith missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with 7.6 seconds to play. Zack rebounded, dribbled the length of the court and popped a 3-point try that bounced off.
“We dug ourselves too big a whole,” Healy said.
Saint Martin’s trailed 67-53 with 5:42 remaining and a comeback looked unlikely for the cold-shooting Saints.
But SMU caught fire and scored the final 13 points.
Guard Roni Jo Mielke’s layup cut the gap to 67-66 with 1:01 remaining.
But the Saints missed their final two shots and lost on their home floor for the first time in five games this season.
“We finally got it going at the end of the game,” said Mielke, who finished with six points. “They play a physical defense. They took us out of our game.”
Saint Martin’s (6-3 overall, 1-1 GNAC) shot 46 percent from the field but couldn’t overcome 26 turnovers. The Crusaders snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 4-3.
Briaunna King, the leading scorer for the Nampa, Idaho school with a 16.2 average, spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble. She finished with a season-low four points before fouling out.
The Crusaders got their scoring by committee with four players in double figures, led by Chelsie Luke’s season-high 16. Interim coach Ryan McCarthy credited defense for the Crusaders’ victory.
“We always say that we can’t control the ball going in the basket, but we can control our defense,” McCarthy said. “We kind of went away from the game plan at the end.”
Trailing 22-15 midway through the first half, Saint Martin’s went on a 9-4 run, closing to 26-24 on Zack’s basket with 8:11 to play in the half.
But Northwest Nazarene answered with a 9-2 run, taking a 37-26 lead on Beth Johnson’s coast-to-coast drive.
Saint Martin’s shot 48 percent from the field (12-for-25) but trailed at halftime, 43-34. The Saints, bothered by the Navigators’ pressing defense, had 16 turnovers by halftime. Saint Martin’s shot 1-for-6 from 3-point range and trailed in rebounds at the break, 17-12.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 email@example.com