Defense, Playmaking Give WOU Upset Win, Team Of The Week
Western Oregon women's basketball used a team effort to beat regionally-ranked Saint Martin's without their leading scorer.
Western Oregon women's basketball used a team effort to beat regionally-ranked Saint Martin's without their leading scorer.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Sophomore forward Meadow Aragon has had a breakout season for the Western Oregon women’s basketball program. Her 12.7 points per game lead the team, her 7.7 rebounds per game rank third in the GNAC and her 2.4 blocks per game are second in the conference and 15th in Division II.

So when Aragon didn’t suit up against a 9-2 Saint Martin’s team that ranked No. 6 in the D2SIDA West Region rankings and featured a pair of skilled three-level scorers in Claire Dingus and Rian Clear, it seemed like it would present a challenge for the Wolves. Quite the opposite, as it turns out.

Western Oregon held the Saints to just 13 points in the first half and rode a triple-double bid from Tresai McCarver to hold off a furious SMU charge and come away with a 68-64 victory. After a win that is sure to shake up both the conference and regional pecking order, the Wolves have been honored as the GNAC Team of the Week.

“We had a great week of practice heading into the Saint Martin’s game and I’m happy for our team to be rewarded for their effort,” head coach Holli Howard-Carpenter said. “It’s nice to see so many people step up with our ever-changing roster.”

All five WOU starters played well above their season average in minutes, but made the most of the opportunity. McCarver had 18 points and nine rebounds, both season-highs, and distributed seven assists to come closer than any GNAC player has this season to a triple-double. Sophomore center Alexis Wright got the start in the middle and recorded three blocks and five rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. Guard Madisyn Clark splashed home three three-pointers and dished four assists and Cali McClave was a ball magnet with seven rebounds, four steals and a block.

Every WOU player contributed to a suffocating defensive effort that forced Saint Martin’s into a 4-for-23 (17.4 percent) field goal shooting effort in the first half. They set the tone early, as Wright and McClave each tallied a block within the first minute of the game. Junior forward Amber Winkler was the hot hand in the first half for WOU, making 3 of 5 first-half shots to have seven of her 12 points before halftime.

After the break, McCarver controlled the game by having the ball in her hands and driving the basket. She scored 12 of her 18 in the second half and got to the line time after time, finishing 11 of 13 from the stripe. McCarver’s ability to hold possession, kill the clock and earn free throws became invaluable when the Saints’ offense caught fire to make the game closer in the second half. While Saint Martin’s cut the lead to one on multiple occasions, they never tied it or took the lead, and Western Oregon completed a wire-to-wire victory.

“Saint Martin’s is a tough team and we knew they would bring it in the second half,” Howard-Carpenter said. “I thought we did a good job of answering when they got close and I’m proud of how we finished.”

The win halted a two-game losing streak for the Wolves, who now sit at 5-5 overall with a 1-2 conference mark. Western Oregon is off to a good start on its four-game homestand at the New PE Building, but they will take all the carryover momentum they can get with the next three games in a five-day span. They will face Alaska on Tuesday in a makeup game from December 2 before regularly scheduled home games against MSUB on Thursday and Seattle Pacific on Saturday.