Saint Martin’s coach Michael Ostlund described Thursday night’s 75-68 overtime loss to Alaska Anchorage in the Saints’ Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball opener at Marcus Pavilion as the best defensive effort of the season and the most complete-game effort, even over last Saturday’s one-point victory at Concordia (Portland).
The Saints (2-6, 0-1 GNAC) played toe-to-toe with the Seawolves, picked to finish second in the preseason GNAC polls, when the clock was moving. When it wasn’t — aka at the free-throw line — they weren’t. UAA connected on 20 of 25 at the line, while the Saints went 14 of 26.
Freshman Trey Ingram, who had a career-high 21 points, said it best:
“If we hit our free throws, we win the game,” he said.
Just one might’ve done it.
Down the stretch in regulation, though, Saint Martin’s young freshmen looked like veterans. Five of the team’s final 10 points in regulation were scored by Ingram and Brent Counts, who hit a pair of free throws with 26.4 seconds left to tie the game at 64-all.
With 13.2 seconds left and following a timeout, UAA’s Brian McGill had a chance for the game-winner, but his layin was short and senior guard Riley Carel’s half-court shot at the buzzer hit the back iron, sending the game into a 5-minute extra session.
But the Saints couldn’t buy a bucket after that; Ingram’s last-second layin with the Seawolves’ victory already intact was the only SMU field goal in overtime. Ostlund couldn’t pin point the reason for his team being outscored 11-4 in overtime.
Might’ve ran out of gas?
“Who knows,” the coach said.
For an Alaska-Anchorage team that entered Thursday averaging better than nine made 3-pointers a game, the Saints held them to 15.8 percent shooting behind the arc (3-for-19), and just 28 first-half points and trailed 28-25 at the break.
Though Ostlund saw his team end its two-game win streak with Alaska-Fairbanks coming to town Saturday at 7 p.m., there were a few positives.
For one, the young guys are coming along. In addition to Ingram’s 21 on 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range, his team shot 53.8 percent in the second half.
“I’m happy where we’re headed right now,” Ingram said. “We’re all playing good basketball. If we continue this, I think we can get a lot more wins in the stretch. We just keep going up and up as a team, which is really nice to see.”
Central Washington 62, Saint Martin’s 47: The Wildcats held Saint Martin’s to 31.5 percent shooting, including only two 3-point field goals, in their Great Northwest Athletic Conference opener in Ellensburg.
Liz Mills led all SMU (2-5, 0-1) scorers with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting. McKenzie Taylor reached double figures in rebounds with 12. The Saints’ GNAC-opening weekend continues at Northwest Nazarene Saturday. Tip-off is at 5:15 p.m.