As the Spalding University women’s basketball team has surged to a school-record 12 straight wins and a trip to the conference tournament, the Golden Eagles have relied on senior Alex Martin to carry a major all-around load.
The 5-foot-6 Martin, was already a three-time all-conference player heading into 2018-19, but she has saved her best season for last.
She leads Spalding (19-6, 14-2 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) in scoring (17.2 ppg) and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (6.6), both career bests. She’s also first on the team in steals (48) and second in assists (63).
She’ll lead the second-seeded Golden Eagles against No. 3 Westminster at 7 p.m. EST Thursday in the SLIAC Tournament semifinals at Greenville. The winner will face the No. 1 Greenville-No. 4 Webster in Saturday’s title game with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament on the line. Spalding is participating in its first SLIAC Tournament in three years and will be vying for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2015.
“If I could have written a book about how my senior year would go, this would be it,” Martin said. “This has been amazing.”
Martin said helping Spalding get back to the conference tournament was her No. 1 goal this season and that it’s exciting to get there with so much momentum.
The Golden Eagles were only 7-6 after losing back-to-back games by a total of six points at Westminster and at Greenville on Jan. 3 and Jan 5. But they’ve hit their stride since and avenged both league losses when Westminster and Greenville visited Louisville. Spalding’s 75-65 win over Greenville on Feb. 6 was the Panthers’ only conference loss.
Martin missed the first five games of the season with a toe injury – one of multiple injuries the Golden Eagles have battled this season. At one point, Spalding had only eight players available and was forced to have people playing out of position to fill out the lineup. But Martin said those setbacks helped Spalding in the long run because the players matured and learned new roles and skills.
Martin, for instance, played power forward some out of necessity, and she said that helped improve her rebounding in the post.
“Our coaches say every day that we’re not quitters,” Martin said “We could be down 15, and wont quit. We just don’t give up. If somebody goes down, we say, ‘OK, let’s pick up the slack somewhere else.'”
Martin certainly hasn’t been slacking in the scoring department. She reached double figures in all but two regular-season games. She topped 20 points five times, including a career-high 35 points in the loss at Westminster. She was twice named the SLIAC Player of the Week.
Though she’s Spalding’s top scorer, Martin said passing is her favorite part of the game.
The Ballard High School alumna said she has always been a fan of NBA point guard and Louisville native Rajon Rondo and enjoyed watching him facilitate the offense and set teammates up for baskets.
“Seeing other people’s success and seeing other people score (is satisfying),” Martin said. “You can always hit a three, but having that pretty pass, you might only get to do it a couple times a game, so that’s the best part.”
Martin looks back on her Spalding career fondly. She said she was drawn to stay home and play for the Golden Eagles because of the reputation of coach Charlie Just and the opportunity for her family to attend all her games.
Martin is in Spalding’s natural science and pre-athletic training program. She’ll graduate in June, then be back next school year to complete her master’s of science in athletic training. Eventually, she hopes to become a trainer for a college basketball team.
The Golden Eagles square off with the Blue Jays tonight in the @SLIAC tournament semifinals! Follow the action live at the links below.
— Spalding Athletics (@SUGoldenEagles) February 21, 2019