Following strong start SMU women’s basketball falls short
Eric Parks, Staff Writer
After a season that started with two exhibition wins and a 4-2 overall record through the first six regular season games, the women’s basketball team went on a losing streak and ended the season 8-20 overall and 4-16 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) play.
At the beginning of the season, the Saints were ranked eleventh–dead last–in the preseason GNAC poll. Last season, they managed only five wins in 28 games and only one in conference action. This season, however, they improved both of those winning totals by three and finished one spot ahead of where they were ranked in the conference at the beginning of the season. Although winning only four games in conference play was undoubtedly frustrating for the players, it was a notable improvement from last season.
Head coach Christy Martin started her first season with the Saints, spending the last few seasons at Tacoma Community College. At the beginning of the season, Martin said, “I have a proven track record of rebuilding programs and creating lasting success and with the administration, campus, and community’s support I believe we can accomplish that at Saint Martin’s.” While winning four conference games wouldn’t appear to be a step in the right direction, this season could end up representing just that as Martin continues to rebuild the team, a process that can take several seasons.
Throughout the season, many underclassmen made large contributions to the team. Freshman Saniah Simpson-Patu lead the team in starts (28, all games) and minutes (855), rebounds (171), free throws made (102), field goals (142), points (395) and other categories. Sophomore Makenna Schultz made only six starts but tied for Simpson-Patu with 855 minutes and was second on the team with 371 points. Sophomore Mercedes Victor also posted impressive numbers with 503 minutes, 63 field goals and 4.0 rebounds per game.
While there were many underclassmen who contributed to the team this season, all three seniors saw significant playing time. Hannah Reynolds played minutes in all games this season, Lauren Lindley played in all but one game, and Elin Johansson started all 19 games before suffering a season ending injury. Reynolds accumulated 579 minutes played (20.7 per game) and 127 points. Johansson was the only player to have a field goal percentage over .500 and finished sixth on the team in minutes despite having to sit out the last nine and a half games of the season. Additionally, junior Rebekah Baugh started the second most games on the team.
While the Saints technically exceeded expectations and improved from last season, there will still be plenty of work to do before next season. While a majority of the team will be retained, more pieces will need to be added if the Saints are to be competitive. Only three players averaged more than 10 points per game (Simpson-Patu, Johansson, and Schultz), and that will need to change. Additionally, the team let up nearly 200 more points than they scored, so they will need to improve on defense.
One area where the Saints could catch up is three point shots. The Saints took 239 fewer three point shots than their opponents (428 to 667), and made 78 fewer (131 to 209, notably less than the opposition). While the team improved from last season, especially by starting 4-2, they will need to avoid the losing streaks of eight and six games that plagued them this season in order to become competitive in the future.