Ryne Oshiro, Staff Writer
For some teams, a playoff bid in the GNAC is not only a priority, but also a stepping stone to achieve much larger goals. For many Saints players, the GNAC championship is only a small step to chasing the hopes of a national championship. Domination is a word that accurately describes this year’s record. With a whopping 22-4 overall record, and an 83 percent winning percentage in conference play, the Saints are atop the standings. Two teams are trailing close behind, Northwest Nazarene and Seattle Pacific, who both hold 14-4 conference records, that are only one game behind the first place Saints.
EJ Boyce leads the Saints charge with 13.2 points per game, which is good enough to rank 13th in the GNAC conference. While the individual points may seem low, the bulk of the Saints points are coming from a spread of players. There are also three other players who average double-digit points. Luke Chavez averages 12.0 points, Chandler Redix averages 11.8, and BJ Standley averages 10.2. With great offense comes the ability to stop opponents on the defensive side of the floor, and that is exactly what the Saints do. Both big men, Tavian Henderson, and Jordan Kitchen, average a total of 5.5 rebounds per game, and both post nearly one block per game. Although these numbers sometimes go unnoticed in the box score, this is a key component to the Saints 10.5-point victory margin. Their efficiency on offense, and great defense helps their overall game run smoothly.
Western Oregon was a team that the Saints had struggled against, being eliminated by them in the GNAC championship in 2018. The Saints got revenge, as they coasted to a 64-56 win. Coach Alex Pribble said, “The guys did a great job defensively, finding ways to keep them out of rhythm, and making adjustments throughout the game. It was a team effort, and everyone who stepped on the floor was locked in defensively. Western Oregon is a good team. They play hard, they’re well coached, and they play a style of basketball that can be really tough for us. With that said, I thought our guys did a great job staying composed and executing.” The Saints seem poised and confident in their upcoming games as crunch time begins.
In a recent game against the Yellowjackets of Montana State Billings, the Saints outrebounded the Yellowjackets by 12 and had a total of seven steals in the game. With great defense present, the Saints rolled to victory with a score of 73-56. The Saints looked strong and ready for the upcoming games as well, committing only eight turnovers in 40 minutes, and shot a cool 43 percent from the field after a heartbreaking loss at Seattle Pacific, where they only made 38 percent from the field.
The GNAC championship is held in Bellingham, Wash. from March 7-9, and the team would appreciate the support and cheering from their fans.