LACEY — The Saint Martin’s Saints served notice Saturday night to the other teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference that there will be no easy games in Marcus Pavilion.
The Saints (5-7, 2-2 GNAC) built a 15-point lead on No. 11-ranked Seattle Pacific, and held on with clutch shooting at the end with a 73-69 win over the Falcons, a GNAC perennial power.
“It really takes the total team effort,” said Saint Martin’s coach Michael Ostlund said.
Ryan Rogers, a 6-foot-4 junior, scored eight of the Saints’ final 10 points, clamped onto a rebound of a Falcons’ miss that would have tied the game, then made two game-clinching free throws, finishing with 17 points and five rebounds.
Riley Carel also tallied 17 and added eight assists, and Evan Coulter added 16 points.
The Saints, who trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, clawed back against Seattle Pacific (11-4, 2-2) to trail 34-33 at halftime. Coulter scored 11 points to lead the Saints in the opening 20 minutes.
The Saints led 60-46 with under 10 minutes to play when David Downs, who had a game-high 24 points, scored 10 straight points while Saint Martin’s shooting went cold.
“Seattle Pacific is a very good team,” Ostlund said. “They’re a national power. We’re trying to get to that level, and the first thing you have to do is beat ’em.”
At Saint Martin’s 77, Western Oregon 46: The Saints scored a season high in points in their victory over Western Oregon (4-7, 1-2) Saturday night, but afterward their coach talked defense.
“We frustrated them,” coach Tim Healy said after SaintMartin’s sixth straight win. “I’ve seen play better than they played tonight.”
The Saints (9-3, 3-0 GNAC) entered the game allowing an average of 54.9 points, which ranks ninth in NCAA Division II.
“Defense has become the most consistent part of our program,” Healy said.
The Saints’ 49 points in the first half were the most in a half since 2005.
White River High graduate Brooke Paulson finished with 18 points for Saint Martin’s, and Chelsea Haskey added 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Women: Freshman Justina Laney’s free throws broke a 50-all tie to give the Geoducks (6-6, 2-3 Cascade Collegiate Conference) the lead for good in a 69-61 road victory over Northwest.
Men: Northwest used a 30-14 run to end the first half to post a 87-73 home win over the Geoducks (1-11, 0-5 CCC).