By Meg Wochnick
LACEY -- If theres something to be learned from playing the No. 3-ranked team in the country thats also the defending NCAA Division II national champions, Saint Martins forward Roger ONeill and the rest of the Saints hope to be a build its program to that caliber.
Thats a program theyre very talented and do a lot of things right, ONeill said following the Saints 104-56 loss to the Western Washington Vikings Saturday night in the teams' Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball game. I think Saint Martins is heading in the right direction, for sure.
Despite the loss, it was a milestone night for ONeill, who led the Saints with 14 points on 3 of 14 shooting but connected on 8 of 9 free throws. His free throw on an old-fashioned 3-points play with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game gave him 1,000 career points.
The Vikings (16-0 overall, 7-0 GNAC) certainly put on a show in front of an estimated 1,300 fans and showed why they are among the nations elite Division II teams. The length, quickness, athleticism was simply too much for the Saints. They shot 58.2 percent, connecting on 39 of 67 field goals, including 11 of 17 from 3-point range. By halftime, after shooting a blistering 61.2 percent, the Vikings already had six players with at least six points and had a comfortable 51-23 lead. It was a different story for the Saints, who shot 21.6 percent on 16 of 74 field goals and were outrebounded 57-37.
Western used a 13-2 run to open up the second half, and had at least a 40-point lead the final 10 minutes of the game. A jumper by Anye Turner off the bench gave the Vikings a 42-point lead at 76-34. It was a homecoming for Turner, a 2011 Black Hills High School graduate who signed with Western following one season at South Puget Sound Community College. Turner came off the bench and finished with 11 points, one of five players to reach double figures for Western. Austin Bragg led all scorers with 17 pounds and 12 rebounds.
Western started fast and didnt let up on the gas, jumping out to leads of 20-6, 37-14 and its largest lead of the first half -- 32 points -- at 48-16 after a bucket by Rick Wilkins inside 2 minutes left in the first half. The Saints only had two field goals in the first 10 minutes as Western already raced out to a 22-8 and Matt Dodsons bucket in the paint gave the Saints their third field goal with 5:09 left in the first half with Westerns lead already at 20 points at 34-14.
They made a ton of shots tonight, ONeill said. A lot of it had to do with them being very good shooters and us not having our best effort on either end. It seemed like it just compounded on each other and got away from us a bit.
The loss drops the Saints to 6-9 overall and 2-5 in the GNAC.
Saint Martins 54, Western Oregon 47: The Saints (10-7 overall, 3-4 GNAC) held the Wolves scoreless the first 11 minutes of the first half, racing out to a 15-0 lead, and kept them at 24 percent shooting for the game in its GNAC road victory.
Leading 50-47 with 47 seconds left, sophomore Jordyn Richardson hit a 3-pointer, her fourth of the game, to extend the Saints lead to six. Richardson finished with 13 points for the third straight game. Chelsea Haskey led all scorers with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473