LYNN– There’s enough room left for just one name on the banner listing St. Mary’s 1,000-point scorers that hangs in the Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.
Wednesday night, Spartans senior Olivia Nazaire made sure it would be her name capping off the banner as she became the 14th player (and fifth female) in St. Mary’s 137-year history to reach the 1,000-point milestone during a 70-34 win over Cardinal Spellman in front of the hometown fans.
Nazaire was facing an uphill climb heading into the game, needing 20 points to reach the plateau. She literally did one better, putting back her own rebound in the fourth quarter to finish the game with 21 points and bring her career total to 1,001.
“I wasn’t really expecting to get it today, so it was a nice surprise,” Nazaire, a Peabody native, said. “It feels good, it’s nice. There’s a nice spot there for me (on the banner).”
The forward looked like she was easily on pace to reach the mark after racking up 11 points in a dominant first half for St. Mary’s. As the score grew more lopsided and time clicked off the clock in the second half, Spartans coach Jeff Newhall said the focus shifted to getting the ball in Nazaire’s hands and giving her chances to get the job done.
“(The team) understood the number one thing tonight was to win the game, and the way we play, Olivia is gonna be huge part of that, and she was,” St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall said. “Of course, late in the second half when it’s a 25-point game, the focus changed a little.”
Nazaire’s 1000th point (technically, it was number 1,001) came on a play that is all too familiar for opposing defenses. Nazaire drove through the paint and put up a contested shot that missed. She corralled the rebound and sent it back, getting the bucket.
“It’s fitting that she scored it the way she scored about 900 of the others,” Newhall said. “That’s just how she plays. She’s tough inside, gets doubled and tripled, bodies flying all over the place. It was one of her classic plays: strong post play, miss, rebound and then up and in.”
Nazaire joins an accomplished list of players who have reached the milestone. Robyn Mazin was the first female to do it at St. Mary’s in 1997. St. Mary’s all-time leading female scorer Tori Faieta was next in 2011, and Jennie Mucciarone and Brianna Rudolph both made their mark in 2014.
The 2017-18 campaign marks Nazaire’s fourth varsity season with the Spartans, and she did the bulk of her scoring in her sophomore (328) and junior (347) years. She came into this season needing just 85 points to get the job done.
This season will likely be the last go-round for Nazaire, who says she’s not planning on pursuing the sport in college.
“I don’t think I’m going to play (in college), actually,” she said. “My knees are so bad, and I feel like I did my time. I love playing basketball, but I think this is it for me.”
Now that the milestone is out of the way, Nazaire and the Spartans have other goals to focus on.
“It’s been a good run,” Newhall said. “Now that that’s out of the way for her, there’s a lot of stuff in front of us as a team.”