By Meg Wochnick
LACEY -- It mightve only been the opening minutes of its Great Northwest Athletic Conference womens basketball game against Seattle Pacific, but Saint Martins sophomore guard Angela Gelhar and the Saints could already sense a victory.
A quick seven-point lead in the first three minutes of the game had the Saints feeling confidence of earning their first conference win.
We were just feeling it, Gelhar said. We were all so pumped up. We knew we had it.
Thanks to a 9-0 run to end the first half and the momentum soon led to thier first double-digit lead minutes into the second half, Saint Martins upset co-GNAC leader Seattle Pacific, 70-66, Saturday night at Marcus Pavilion.
It was part of a Saint Martins sweep, as the Saints men defeated Western Oregon, 71-59, in the nightcap. Saint Martins (8-6 overall, 1-3 GNAC) had season-highs in points scored (70) and inspite of giving up 66 points to the leagues second-highest scoring team, they forced 23 Seattle Pacific (9-3, 3-1) turnovers and racked up 15 steals. Much of that credit goes to the newly-installed matchup zone.
We have so much fun on defense, Gelhar said. Its always gets us fired up and we feel like were playing so much together as a team.
The Saints largest second-half lead was 11 at 47-36 with 11:50 left in the game off of Gelhars 3-pointer. She finished with 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting, including a 2 of 3 from 3-point range. Junior forward Chelsea Haskey had a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds.
Seattle Pacifics Aubree Callen led all scorers with 26 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
The Saints shot 45.1 percent (23 of 51) for the game and ended the first half on a 9-0 run in the final 2:11, thanks to its pressure defense and created turnovers into fastbreak buckets. Point guard Jori Skorpiks steal and layin accounted for a 3-point play with 29 second remaining the gave the Saints a 32-26 lead at the break. Skorpik and Jordyn Richardson finished with nine points apiece.
Its been an up-and-down season so far for the young Saints, who fell 69-47 at home to Montana State-Billings, but still won for the third time in four games. Their next three games -- Central Washington, Northwest Nazarene and Western Oregon -- are all on the road.
This was a really important game for us, Saints coach Tim Healy said. They continue to work hard and to finally get the rewards for the hard work is really nice. Im hoping we can build on this.
Saint Martins 71, Western Oregon 59: Thanks in part to lights-out first-half shooting at 57 percent, the Saints earned their first win in GNAC play, handing the Wolves their second loss in eight games. It was the Saints first game since its cross-country tournament in Florida Dec. 18-19.
We couldnt have played much better than that, said senior point guard Brady Bomber, who finished with 11 points and five assists. This was huge. Going 0-3 to up Alaska (SMUs games next weekend) would not have been ideal.
Bomber, who ranks 12th among Division II players in assists-to-turnover ratio, was one of four Saints in double figures. Roger ONeill led all scorers with 24 points, 17 of which came in the first half. Eric Taylor came off the bench to score 12 points and Evan Coulter had 10 points.
Saint Martins (5-6, 1-2) grabbed its first double-digit lead at 22-11 with 6 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the first half on their way to their largest lead of the game at 48-22 minutes into the second half following a layin by Coulter. Western Oregon got as close as nine when Devon Alexander hit two of his team-high 19 points with 2:09 left that brought the Saints lead to 61-52.