LACEY — Forward Megan Wiedeman averages 13 minutes a game for the Saint Martin’s women’s basketball team, so when she comes off the bench, her job is to do one thing: provide a spark.
But what about the first start of her young career Thursday against Simon Fraser? That spark happened early and often, and especially in a span of 15 seconds over the final minute of the game, when the sophomore’s putback and successful 3-point play, coupled with a steal and two free throws helped seal the Saints’ 73-71 win over the Clan at Marcus Pavilion.
It was a win the Saints desperately needed to keep their hold on first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Up next for Saint Martin’s (11-4, 5-1 GNAC) is a home matchup with Western Washington (8-6, 4-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday. WWU has won 11 in a row over SMU
“I wanted to go out there and prove what I could do,” Wiedeman said.
The reason for Wiedeman’s first start, coach Tim Healy said, was in part because of her nine-point, six-rebound effort in 15 minutes during Saturday’s 85-78 road win against Alaska Anchorage. Against the Clan (9-5, 3-3) , she finished with 12 points — five coming in the final minute — and nine rebounds.
“She’s earned it,” Healy said. “She’s playing better than anybody else right now at that position. It’s something I would’ve expected out of her, to be quite honest.”
Wiedeman, from Sammamish, also had a team-best three steals — none bigger than the one with 40 seconds remaining as she victimized the GNAC’s leading scorer, Erin Chambers, then hit two free throws to give SMU the lead for good at 71-69. Her 3-point play seconds earlier tied the score at 69-all.
Wiedeman said when the opportunity came for a strip of the ball, she “winged it.”
“It ended up working in my favor,” she said.
The final minute of drama came courtesy of Simon Fraser’s hot second-half shooting. The Clan hit three of their nine 3-pointers in a five-possession span during a 15-2 run that saw an 11-point Saint Martin’s lead turn into a 58-56 SFU advantage.
From there, the lead changed hands four times. Chambers, who led Simon Fraser with 25 points, made two free throws with 1:22 left to give the Clan its 69-66 lead before Wiedeman’s heroics down the stretch.
Angela Gelhar had a team-high 17 points for the Saints.
HASKEY CLOSE TO MARK
Chelsea Haskey is closing in on becoming the 15th player in Saints women’s basketball history to surpass 1,000 career points. Her two points Thursday pushed her career point total to 988.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/ south-sound-sports @MegWochnick