LACEY - Saint Martin's coach Keith Cooper did something he hadn't done all season Thursday.
He started three freshmen.
And the youthful Saints avoided youthful mistakes against Alaska Fairbanks, resulting in an impressive 91-75 comeback win after trailing by four midway through the second half.
“We’ve been young all year, but we’re getting older,” Cooper said. “Our kids did a nice job of staying composed.”
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Blake Poole again led the Saints, scoring 30 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. It’s his 16th double-double of the season.
With center Dane Henze out because of a strained hamstring, and forward Jared Howard off the team for discipline reasons, Cooper started three freshmen – Eric Taylor, Brady Bomber and Roger O’Neill. It was Taylor’s first start.
At one point, Cooper had four freshmen on the floor.
“Our kids didn’t hang their heads,” Cooper said.
Fairbanks went on a 7-0 run midway through the second half to take a 64-60 lead.
But Saints junior guard Galen Squiers sank back-to-back 3-pointers, sparking a 10-2 run. Squiers capped the run with his third 3-pointer, giving the Saints a 70-66 lead with 8:42 left.
“Our guards are hitting their shots,” Poole said. “That opens up room inside. It spreads the court out.”
Squiers and Bomber were a combined 7-of-9 from 3-point range, and both players finished with 15 points.
Jeremy Green added 18 for the Saints, who improved to 13-10 overall and 3-9 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“We kept it consistent,” Poole said. “We knew they were a good team.”
Since Fairbanks beat SMU last month, 76-75, the Nanooks have lost their last six games.
Nashorn Maynard scored 23 points to lead Fairbanks, which is coached by Clemon Johnson, a former Seattle SuperSonics player.
Saint Martin’s 80, Fairbanks 74: Saints coach Tim Healy was pleased with the outcome but not with the performance.
The Saints blew a 12-point lead and trailed by a basket with a minute left before pulling out the win.
“I’m pleased with the win, but we played with no heart, with no intensity,” Healy said. “I’m very disappointed.”
Saint Martin’s led 67-55 on Dara Zack’s basket with 8:03 left. But the Nanooks chipped away, going on a 9-0 run late the game to take a 74-72 lead on Ronisha Edwards’ basket with 1:15 left.
Katie Hawkins, who is averaging 3.7 points, scored on back-to-back baskets, giving the Saints a 76-74 lead with 56 seconds left.
“Those are the two biggest baskets of her career,” Healy said.
Saint Martin’s finished the game with an 8-0 run to secure the victory.
Fairbanks senior forward Lakeshia Levi, who came into the game averaging a team-high 15.8 points, fouled out with 16:29 left when she picked up a technical foul after she was called for her fourth foul.
Jamey Gelhar swished both technical foul free throws and the Saints led 48-42.
With Levi out of the game, the Nanooks were down to six players.
Saints Martin’s, which earlier defeated Fairbanks, 82-48 improved to 9-13 overall and 3-8 in the GNAC. Fairbanks dropped to 2-21 and 1-11.
“We got back into the game with our defense,” Healy said. “Then we lost that intensity. It wasn’t our best performance.”