With his team trailing 16-11, Saint Martin's women's basketball coach Tim Healy called a timeout and told his players to improve their defense.
His team responded with a 21-2 run, turning Tuesday’s exhibition game with The Evergreen State College into a runaway, 88-46 victory.
“The difference was when we started to pressure them,” Healy said. “They were uncomfortable with the pressure.”
The Saints went on runs of 21-2, 21-0 and 11-0 to take control of the game played at Evergreen.
Never miss a local story.
“We were on our heels a little early on,” Healy said. “Our defense is what got us going.”
The Saints led by as many as 47 points, opening an 86-39 advantage on Megan Teade’s two free throws with 3:30 remaining. The Saints scored only two points in the final three minutes and still beat the Geoducks by 42.
“We have a young group, a very young group,” Evergreen coach Monica Heuer said. “We had some long stretches where we didn’t score. We have to understand that we need to get a stop on defense and then not throw something up.”
Marelle Moehrle, a 5-foot-9 junior transfer from Western Washington, led the Saints with 18 points on 6-for-7 accuracy from 3-point range.
“She can really shoot it,” Healy said. “You can’t leave her open.”
Evergreen led 16-11 on Shekia Hill’s free throw with 10:10 to go in the first half. But after that timeout to remind the Saints about their defense, Moehrle sank three straight 3-pointers, sparking a 21-2 run.
The Saints, who lost an exhibition at Boise State by 48 points on Sunday, held Evergreen to five points in the final 10 minutes of the first half, none in the final 2:47 before intermission.
With the score tied 9-9, Evergreen went on a 7-1 run, opening a 16-10 lead.
But Evergreen struggled with the Saints’ hand-in-the-face defense and shot 35 percent (7-of-20) from the field in the first half. The Saints shot 46 percent (14-for-30) in the half, including 5-for-6 from 3-point range.
In the second half, Saint Martin’s shot 58 percent (17-for-29). Twelve Saints scored, with Dara Zack, SMU’s leading scorer last season, adding 13 points.
“We used a lot of different combinations,” Healy said. “This was a good learning experience.”
Evergreen got eight points each from Vanessa Caskey, Danielle Swain and Hill.