Luke Hare, Staff Writer
With the second half of conference play underway, the Saints look to get back to playing the way that got them to the top of the GNAC. They hold their own destiny, and if they win out, the Saints will have built huge momentum heading into the postseason.
“I think a big part of the offense is paying attention to the details, controlling what we can and believing in ourselves,” said senior Rhett Baerlocher. “I think we have been in a lot of tight games and we know what we have to win games down the stretch.”
These remaining weeks will be huge for the Saints, as they look to possibly gain ground in the NCAA West Regional rankings, and there is a possibility of hosting a tournament game.
One of the key aspects for this team to be victorious is the ability to knock down three pointers and free throws. In both league games they have lost so far, they have shot less than 58 percent from the line, and less than 41 percent from the field. While it is impossible to have all the shots fall, free throws are an aspect that will always be looked back on as a tipping point in a game. In the Western Washington loss, they missed nine free throws and lost by seven. Even more disappointing was against Simon Fraser, where they lost by two and missed seven free throws.
The Saints still have remaining games against three of the top ranked teams in the conference heading down the stretch, with two of those games being on the road against second place Northwest Nazarene, who is still unbeaten at home, and fourth place Seattle Pacific, respectively. However, the positive side to this is that the Saints have beaten both teams at home, and also have the highest winning percentage on the road in conference.
One can get distracted by the close losses and complain, but it should be noted that there have been multiple close games that the Saints have won. For instance, the Saints have won three games by three points or less and have come from behind in the last minute to secure wins in two other games. This is a team that has the skill, chemistry, and clutch players to be able to win those one-possession games. This team is special and has all the talent to make a deep run this year.
“We have a ton of leaders that are able to do different things at different times,” said Baerlocher. “There are older, experienced guys that all want the best for our team that are willing to sacrifice anything to get wins. I think if we do that, we will have a good shot of extending our season down the stretch.”