OLYMPIA – Exhibition games don’t mean anything in the win-loss column, but for Saint Martin’s men’s basketball coach Keith Cooper, they can be used for working out kinks, getting bench players more minutes and figuring out how to win games when shots are off the mark.
“It’s a good lesson to learn to be able to win a game when you’re not shooting the ball well,” Cooper said following the Saints’ 66-50 victory over The Evergreen State College on Tuesday night. “That’s one of the things that’s going to happen some other nights.”
Tuesday was a Saint Martin’s sweep for the men’s and women’s teams in their exhibitions, which do not count for the teams’ overall records. The Saint Martin’s women topped Evergreen, 47-37, after a turnover-filled first half for both teams.
For Cooper’s team in the nightcap, they had their fair share of shooting woes.
They took 73 shots and made 25 (34.2 percent), but the defense forced 25 Evergreen turnovers.
With a 24-16 lead at halftime, the Saints went on a 6-0 run in the opening two minutes of the second half, capped by Evan Coulter’s jumper that gave the Saints a double-digit lead for good at 30-16. Their largest lead came at 50-29 with 9:09 left in the game on Garrett Stoney’s 3-pointer – the Saints’ first 3-pointer of the game. SMU finished 1-for-13 from 3-point range.
“If we would’ve made a few more shots early,” Cooper said, “I think we would’ve played a lot better.”
Seniors Roger O’Neill and Brady Bomber are the two returning starters and so far, multiple junior college transfers have made an impact.
Coulter, a junior transfer from Whatcom Community College, has been one of those making an impact as he finished with a team-best 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting and eight rebounds. Rei Jensen, another junior college transfer, and Lucas Shannon had 11 points apiece.
Marc Taylor led Evergreen with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Elzie Dickens III chipped in with 10.
The Saints previously lost exhibition games against Boise State (75-55) and Washington State (62-50). The Saints evened the series with Evergreen at 8-all dating back to the 1997-98 season.
Saint Martin’s 47, Evergreen 37: After leading 20-16 in a turnover-filled first half, the Saints won the turnover battle in the second half (six) to earn the exhibition victory.
The Saints held Evergreen to 30 percent shooting.
Brooke Paulson had a team-high 12 points on 6-for-12 shooting, and MacKenzie Taylor and Black Hills High School graduate Chelsea Haskey had eight points.
Danielle Swain, also a Black Hills graduate, had 13 points and seven rebounds to lead the Geoducks.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick