The Saint Martin’s University men’s basketball team held on in overtime Thursday to advance the Great Northwest Athletic Conference semifinals for the second consecutive season.
Five players scored in double figures for SMU, led by EJ Boyce’s 15 points, and the Saints edged Central Washington, 87-84, in the quarterfinals.
The Saints (23-6) meet Western Washington (21-7) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday.
Sage Woodruff, who had 15 points off the bench for the Wildcats, nailed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining in regulation to cut SMU’s lead to 76-74. Jawan Stepney (11 points) took the game to overtime with a 17-foot jumper with six seconds left.
However, Central made just 1-of-9 shots in overtime, and the Saints survived after Rhett Baerlocher sunk a pair of free throws to push the advantage to 85-81 with 19 seconds to go.
The Wildcats answered with a final 3-pointer, but two more free throws from SMU sealed it. The overtime contest was just the second in GNAC tournament history.
The Saints jumped out to an 8-0 lead early on a Jordan Kitchen jumper less than two minutes into the game, and the Saints led comfortably in the first half before the Wildcats went on a 16-7 run, eventually tying the game at 26-26 with six minutes, 11 seconds to play before the break.
SMU responded, with Cameron Chatwin hitting a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to give the Saints a double-digit lead, 42-34, at halftime.
Kitchen hit a 3-pointer in the second half that built SMU’s lead as high as 14 points, but Luke Chavez (12 points) and Matt Dahlen (nine) got in foul trouble, which allowed Central to climb back.
Chavez, a pivotal player for the Saints who averages a team-high 15.9 points per game, fouled out in the final two minutes of regulation.
Khalil Shabazz, the GNAC freshman of the year, boosted Central’s second-half charge, finishing with a game-high 23 points.
BJ Standley added 13 points for the Saints, while Kitchen had 12.