LACEY – Their competitive spark and positive play came in bits and pieces, but coach Tim Healy feels his Saint Martin’s women’s basketball team will eventually coalesce into a whole.
As a work in progress, the Saints lost their Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener Thursday night, 51-41, to Northwest Nazarene, a team Healy referred to as a “really good offensive club.”
“We’re really struggling to find that right combination,” Healy said following the loss to the Crusaders at Marcus Pavilion.
“I can put together a lineup that can score, and I can put together a lineup that can play defense, but I’m having a hard time putting together a lineup that can do both.”
Healy has already used a different starting lineup in all eight games thus far, and that will be the case again when the Saints host Central Washington at 7 p.m. Saturday.
NW Nazarene (5-2 overall, 1-0 GNAC) led the majority of the game – with the exception of the opening minute – and built its largest lead at 47-29 with 8 minutes, 4 seconds left in the second half on a jumper by Megan Hingston.
But the Saints (3-5, 0-1) went on a 10-0 run in a four-minute span to cut an 18-point deficit to 47-39 with back-to-back free throws by Jori Skorpik and Chelsea Haskey.
Haskey led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting, and was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line and had seven rebounds. As a team, the Saints shot 31.3 percent (15 of 48) but were 0-for-8 from 3-point range.
Skorpik, a redshirt freshman from Kennewick, was the team’s spark plug at point guard during that 10-0 run.
In a span of one minute, the 5-foot-2 player scored four consecutive points and got back-to-back steals and three rebounds to inject some life into a Saints offense that had struggled with ragged play and turnovers. The Saints finished with 32 turnovers.
“The one thing I will say about this team is they have a lot of character and they will never give up,” Healy said.
The Saints’ defense held the Crusaders’ three leading scorers – Briaunna King, Chelsie Luke and Hingston – to under their scoring averages.
King led NW Nazarene with 10 points, the only Crusaders player to score in double figures, after coming in with an average of 17.8 points a game.
Saint Martin’s 84, Northwest Nazarene 78: Four Saints scored in double figures, led by Jeremy Green’s game-high 25 points and Roger O’Neill’s 23 in the Saints’ GNAC-opening win in Nampa, Idaho.
The Saints led by as many as 14 in the second half and had a 67-57 with 8:15 left in the second half on a jumper by Green. But the Crusaders went on a 12-4 run in a five-minute span to cut their deficit to 71-69 off two free throws by J.B. Pillard with 3:54 left.
Saint Martin’s (2-4) shot 53 percent (31 of 59).
In addition to Green and O’Neill, Ryan Votaw had 16 points, and Brok Pendleton chipped in with 11.
The Saints travel to Ellensburg on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game against Central Washington.