The shot was the first made basket of Saint Martin’s University’s game against Concordia last Thursday, and it was a record-breaker.
Hannah Reynolds rolled off of a double screen, and Baylee Olsen, a sophomore, popped up to the top of the key and drained the 3-pointer.
“I just remember (Hannah) and I celebrating, because we knew that was the record-breaking 3,” Olsen said.
It was the 11th straight 3-pointer that Olsen, a Wahkiakum High School graduate, made during a span of four games.
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That streak, which began when the Saints traveled to Portland to play Westminster College on Nov. 19, broke the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference Record for consecutive 3-pointers made.
But, before Olsen’s nearly two-week streak came to an end, no one at SMU said a word.
“It’s kind of like the pitcher who has a no-hitter going,” Saints coach Tim Healy said. “You don’t want to say anything about it. We kind of just let her go.
“She didn’t take any shots that weren’t in the flow of the offense. … They just came to her, and she just kept shooting, and we didn’t say a thing about it.”
Neither did Olsen. She said she didn’t want to jinx herself.
“I didn’t want to say anything, so I just kind of kept my mouth shut, too,” she said.
Olsen said nothing, but her four-game perfect streak — which included a 7-for-7 performance against Holy Names, in which she scored a game-high 22 points — said plenty.
“You never expect somebody to make seven in a row,” Healy said. “As good of a shooter as she is, that’s not something you expect. She was just so on that night, and the best part was, her shot selection was perfect.”
Such flashes of brilliance are what Healy is looking for as the young Saints, who have no seniors, work to establish themselves when they resume GNAC play against Northwest Nazarene on Dec. 29 at Marcus Pavilion in Lacey.
Olsen, whom Healy said he recruited for her length (she’s 6 feet tall) and her ability to shoot from the perimeter, is one player he’d hoped would break out this season. Olsen leads the Saints in 3-point shooting percentage (.538) and has made 14 of them in eight games.
“We had hoped for it,” Healy said. “We were certainly hoping that her shooting confidence would be there this year, and that she would be a scorer.”
Healy said he’d seen glimpses of Olsen’s sharp shooting in practice, but it hadn’t translated to games until this season.
“I’m more confident in ways I wasn’t before,” Olsen said. “Last year, I was just kind of getting used to the college basketball environment. It was a lot different for me, and it was a lot harder for me.
“This year, I feel like I’ve gotten more comfortable and confident in other areas of the game, that I’m not thinking about my shot when I’m shooting. It’s just all coming naturally.”
That’s kind of like it did when she was younger. She won halftime 3-point shooting contests at Wahkiakum High School while she was in elementary school, and she spent countless hours in the gym with her brother, Cody, and father, Bill.
“That’s always been my main focus,” Olsen said. “I’ve always felt like that’s the strongest part of my game, is the 3-point shot.”
During Olsen’s record-breaking stretch, the Saints went 3-1 to improve to 4-4 overall (0-2 GNAC). They are on pace to top last year’s 7-20 overall record.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Healy said. “We’re a young basketball team. There are moments where we’re not where we need to be, and there are flashes of brilliance. I hope that we’ll continue to plug away and make progress.”
Olsen said that, as young as the Saints are, the potential is there.
“It just needs to all come together, and rather it would be sooner than later,” she said. “We are all talented, so, once we do find that chemistry and flow, and all of the natural stuff comes together, I feel like we could be one of the best teams in the conference, but we’re just not there yet. It will come.”
Saint Martin’s University sophomore Baylee Olsen made 11 consecutive 3-pointers during a four-game stretch that lasted nearly two weeks, breaking a Great Northwest Athletic Conference record. The Saints went 3-1 during that span, including wins over Westminster, Holy Names and Notre Dame De Namur.
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