LACEY — Exhibition basketball games aren’t so much about what side of the final score you’re on, or the margin of victory or defeat, but about finding the identity of a team and what lineups jell.
Tuesday night was the third and final exhibition game for the Saint Martin’s University women’s basketball team on the young 2013-14 season, and the second of back-to-back games at Marcus Pavilion. So what has Saints coach Tim Healy learned about his team after three exhibitions – including Tuesday’s 70-63 win over The Evergreen State College – leading up to this weekend’s games at the Western Oregon University tournament?
“Not enough,” Healy said.
The Saints used their third different starting lineup, though they’re likely to use their fourth and fifth this weekend against Academy of Art and Notre Dame de Namur, Healy said. But against the Geoducks, SMU got high production from the usual suspects.
Senior forward Chelsea Haskey, a Black Hills graduate, had a game-high 22 points, six rebounds and three assists but was held to seven points in the second half. A 9-4 run late in the
first half left the Geoducks down 37-29 at halftime, and they were within single digits throughout the second half.
Healy pointed to her players’ inconsistent production on both ends of the floor. Still, the Saints’ strength continues to be their defense, he added.
“This team has the potential to be a very good defensive team,” he said.
While the Saints never trailed, Evergreen shot 42 percent in the second half and closed to 59-51 with less than 6 minutes remaining after a pair of Sammi Clark free throws.
Clark, who played all 40 minutes at point guard, was one of three Geoducks players in double figures, scoring 17 points and adding five assists. Brittany Gray, a former Gonzaga signee out of Bainbridge High School, led Evergreen with 21 points and eight rebounds. Gray’s older brother, Steven, was a 1,000-point scorer at Gonzaga from 2007-11.
For Evergreen, it was the team’s season opener and the first of consecutive games; the Geoducks host Northwest on Wednesday night.
Coach Monica Heuer commended her team for how it “grew up.” The Geoducks were outrebounded 41-37, yet took 11 more shots than the Saints thanks to the 20 turnovers they forced.
“Those were pretty open-to-the-basket shots,” Heuer said, “and the second-chances made a difference.”
Krista Stabler, who finished with nine points in 26 minutes for the Saints, hit buckets in back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 11 twice – at 64-53, then again at 66-55 with less than 3 minutes to play.
Saint Martin’s 89, Evergreen 69: Evan Coulter’s game-high 27 points led the Saints in an exhibition win against the Geoducks in coach Michael Ostlund’s home debut at Marcus Pavilion.
Coulter, a senior guard, was 8 of 12 shooting and 9 of 12 from the free-throw line, and one of four Saints to score in double figures, joining Riley Carel (14 points), and Ryan Rogers and Tyler Copp (12).
The Saints shot 54.1 percent in the first half – after a hot 22-7 start – and raced out to a 49-34 halftime lead and shot 47.7 percent for the game.
Evergreen, which committed just seven turnovers, got as close as 66-54 on Kyle Calhoun’s jumper. Calhoun, who was 7 of 22 from the floor, and Frankie Johnson each had a team-high 16 points, and KJ Hong added 15 – including 3 of 6 from the 3-point line.
Cody Peters added 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Saints outrebounded the Geoducks 56-35; seven Saints had at least five rebounds.
Lucas Shannon, who did not play in last Friday’s 91-54 exhibition loss at Utah of the Pac-12 Conference after suffering a broken nose in practice, played 19 minutes off the bench and had eight rebounds and four points while sporting a face mask.
“This was the first day all year that we had all the guys at full strength,” Ostlund said.
Ostlund had spent the past 10 years as coach between Salt Lake Community College and Snow College.
Saint Martin’s travels to Hawaii for the GNAC/PAC West Conference Challenge on Friday to face the University of Hawaii at Hilo.firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/ south-sound-sports-blog @megwochnick