Saints Narrow Gap For 6th, Earn Team Of The Week Honors
The Saints pulled to within two games out of sixth place with four games remaining in the regular season.
The Saints pulled to within two games out of sixth place with four games remaining in the regular season.

Monday, February 15, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Entering the week four games out of the sixth and final playoff spot, the Saint Martin’s men’s basketball team could not have had a better week. With two victories and two losses for Western Washington, the Saints have pulled within two games for sixth place and earned the GNAC’s Red Lion Team of the Week award.

“We are very honored to be the GNAC team of the week,” said head coach Alex Pribble. “Receiving this recognition is a great confidence builder for our young team. The guys have been fully committed to improving each and every day, and earning this award, particularly at this point in the season, shows that we are continuing to take major steps in the right direction.”

The Saints are in an almost win-out situation, but took the first steps towards a playoff berth with back-to-back road wins last week. Saint Martin’s came out with an 84-77 overtime victory against fifth place Central Washington. The Saints then followed up the overtime thriller with a thirty-point victory over Northwest Nazarene, 98-68. The wins pushed the Saints’ win streak to three games and improved their record to 6-10 GNAC, 12-12 overall.

Saint Martin’s has extra incentive to reach the GNAC Championships as they will be hosting the tournament on their home court beginning on March 3 in Lacey, Wash.

“Our focus in completely on the process,” Pribble said. “We are trying to reach our potential as a team, and we believe that if we prepare the right way in practice, in the film room, and in all other aspects of our preparation, that the outcome will take care of itself. Making the conference tournament is a goal for our guys, so it provides some external motivation, but we are going to remain focused on improving each and every time we step out onto that court.”

In Ellensburg, Wash., Saint Martin’s played the Wildcats even, remaining tied 42-42 at halftime and 75-75 after regulation. The Saints then played their best basketball of the night in overtime, outscoring Central Washington 9-2. Guard Tyler Copp led the team with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists and was one of four Saints in double-digit scoring. Trey Ingram and Brandon Kenilvort added 18 and 14 points off the bench, respectively. The Saints shot 46.2 percent from the field and 52 percent from three point range (13 of 25).

“Defense has been one of our strengths this year, but this week in particular our guys defended for entire possessions,” Pribble said. “They battled on the glass and showed a consistent toughness that we've been looking for. Our guys have made great strides this season, and being the Team of the Week in such a strong conference shows that we are making great improvements.”

The Saints scored a season high 98 points on Saturday night at Northwest Nazarene in a complete team effort. Forward Victor Ieronymides scored a team-high 17 points, leading four players in double digit scoring and seven players with at least eight points. Jordan Kitchen scored 15 points with four rebounds and two blocks and Rhett Baerlocher had 14 points. Cole Preston dished out a game-high nine assists and grabbed six boards.

As a team, the Saints shot 60.3 percent from the field and a scorching 62.5 percent from behind the arc on 20 of 32 shooting. Seven different players hit on at least two three-pointers. They had 41 points off the bench and shot just two free throws all game.

“For us it is really about finding consistency,” Pribble said. “We are learning that it takes 40 minutes of consistent focus and engagement on both ends of the court in order to be competitive. Offensively, we played very unselfish basketball. We got contributions from everyone on our roster, and the guys showed they are completely bought into the importance of valuing the team's success over individual accolades.”

The Saints will finish their season with four home games, starting on Tuesday night against Seattle Pacific. They then host Montana State Billings on Saturday and end the regular season with Simon Fraser and Western Washington.