Saint Martin’s played good defense, holding Simon Fraser to 35 percent shooting and a point total in the 60s, both of which coach Tim Healy wanted.
But the lapses from the Saints came on the offensive end in their 64-56 loss to the Clan in their opening-round game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament at Montana State-Billings’ Alterowitz Gymnasium.
The Saints’ Achilles’ heel all year continued Wednesday night.
“Every time there was a big basket,” Healy said, “we had to answer and we didn’t.”
Saint Martin’s, playing in the GNAC tournament in consecutive seasons, ends its season at 11-16, while Simon Fraser (15-12) advances to Friday’s tournament semifinals against top-seed Alaska Anchorage (27-1), also the country’s top NCAA Division II team.
The Saints had fewer turnovers (11) than Simon Fraser (16) and held a 32-27 halftime lead after Krista Stabler’s layup in the first half’s closing seconds. Their lead grew to eight at the 17:04 mark of the second half before the Clan made their comeback, using an 8-0 run to tie the game at 40, then taking the lead for good at 50-48 with 6:33 to play.
Stabler led the Saints with 19 points, and Elin Johansson and Liz Mills had 10 apiece, but the team shot just 30.6 percent (19 for 62), including 1 of 12 from 3-point range.
The Saints held senior Erin Chambers, the GNAC player of the year and conference’s all-time leading scorer, to 4 of 15 shooting for 16 points, but her rebound and assist on a Katie Lowen 3-pointer with 1:43 to play made SFU’s lead 60-54 after SMU had rebounded to within three at 57-54 at the 2-minute mark.
Healy said “sequences of bad offense” for the Saints in the second half led to easy buckets for the Clan.
“Silly turnovers that gave them layups, and unfortunately, that let them back into the game,” he said.