Saint Martin's Women Named GNAC Team of the Week
SMU's Angela Gelhar (13) capped off her 27-point masterpiece against Northwest Nazarene with this 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining in the Saints' 61-56 victory on Saturday.
SMU's Angela Gelhar (13) capped off her 27-point masterpiece against Northwest Nazarene with this 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining in the Saints' 61-56 victory on Saturday.

Monday, December 9, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – The women’s basketball team at Saint Martin’s University has been hungry to prove it can compete with the top teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Since their last winning season in 2010-11 the Saints have been laying low, waiting for an opportunity to make a bold statement.

Sometimes playing under the radar fits perfectly into a team’s style and can evoke its full potential.

“We embrace being in the underdog role,” said 18-season Saint Martin’s women’s basketball head coaching veteran Tim Healy regarding his team. “Anybody can be surprised on any given night, and that’s what I love about this league.” 

On Saturday night, the entire league was surprised when SMU toppled No. 18 Northwest Nazarene, ending the Crusaders’ seven-game winning streak to begin the 2013-14 season and earning the Saints GNAC Team of the Week honors. Additionally, it snapped an 11-game losing streak for the Saints against NNU, and pushed SMU to its first 2-0 start in GNAC play since the 2004-05 season.

“It was really big for our team in terms of confidence,” Healy commented on the victory. “We came into that game with a blank slate attitude, that it was just one game and had nothing to do with the past.”

Individually against the Crusaders, it was not just Chelsea Haskey, the usual standout, who excelled on the court. Angela Gelhar poured in a career-high 27 points against NNU on Saturday as she has begun to emerge as another scoring threat for the Saints. Haskey averaged 17.0 points and 7.5 rebounds on the weekend, complementing Gelhar’s team-high 19.5 points over the two-game stretch. 

“Chelsea has carried us early on this season with her consistent play, but we have been looking for a secondary scorer to take the pressure off of her a bit,” Healy commented. “Angela has stepped up and seems to be that person, and we have been looking for consistency from the guard position which she has delivered.” 

While the Saints put up solid numbers offensively in both games, it was their effort defensively that sparked their success. SMU held NNU to 56 points on Saturday, more than 25 points below the Crusaders’ average this season.

“Our trademark is our team-style defense and we definitely have some depth there,” Healy commented on the Saints’ conference-low 58.0 points allowed per game this season. “Jori Skorpik is relentless defensively and created a huge turnover against NNU, and MacKenzie Taylor is very consistent for us as well.” 

While GNAC play is on hold until January, the two early victories provided a sense of confidence for SMU early on.

“Our team is somewhat inexperienced but we are learning to play together,” Healy commented on a team that includes 10 sophomores and juniors. “Hopefully these wins are something we can continue to work off of and they will give us the impetus to carry momentum forward.”

SMU travels to Hawaii next weekend and returns to GNAC play against Western Oregon on Jan. 4. The following weekend, the Saints will be tested heavily in the form of a trip to Alaska to face Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage. 

“The GNAC is tough from top-to-bottom,” Healy said. “We have the potential to be a good team if we improve offensively, and we know that the league is going to be really fun this season.”