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Belles move to fourth in MIAA with 64-63 win

Fowler, Ken | Thursday, January 20, 2005

Belles guard Bridget Boyce had a roller-coaster finale during Wednesday night’s contest against MIAA foe Kalamazoo.

With the Belles trailing with 35.8 seconds left in the contest, Boyce scored five unanswered points to lead the Belles to the 64-63 win.

Saint Mary’s trailed 27-26 at the half and was behind for most of the second after losing its momentum.

Belles guard Alison Kessler created a great opportunity for Saint Mary’s to take the lead into the break with a steal and drive, but she was called for a charging foul with 6.7 seconds remaining in the half.

The call seemed to weigh heavily on the Belles, as the Hornets staked out a 10-point lead with a 21-12 run to begin the second. The Belles trailed by 10 with 8:45 remaining, but Hornets’ center Ashley Riley accumulated her fourth foul with 6:37 remaining, giving the Belles just the break they needed to slice into the lead.

“It seemed like we were down by 10 and all of a sudden, I look up, and we’re down by four,” Belles coach Suzanne Bellina said. “[Riley’s foul trouble] definitely gave us a huge opportunity.”

Alison Kessler drew three fouls in the paint during the final six minutes, and she hit all eight of her free throws on the night, improving on her MIAA-best 90 percent free-throw percentage.

In fact, Kessler leads Division III in free-throw percentage among those with at least 60 attempts on the season.

Emily Creach-baum also took advantage of the Hornets’ vulnerability in the paint, scoring six of her 19 points in the final five minutes.

However, the big blows – including two pivotal threes – came from Boyce. She finished the game with 19 points, scoring in double figures in the second half alone.

The Belles will look to get back to .500 on Saturday at Tri-State.

With 35.8 seconds left in the game and the Hornets clinging to a two-point lead, Boyce nailed a go-ahead three-pointer to give Saint Mary’s a 62-61 lead. After the Belles grabbed a rebound with 20 seconds remaining, Boyce found the ball once again, this time hitting two free throws with 13.2 left on the game clock to give Saint Mary’s a three-point lead.

However, the thrills were not over quite yet.

With 1.1 second remaining, Hornets’ Angie Neu drew a three-shot foul on Boyce, giving Kalamazoo an extra chance to tie the game.

After Neu hit the first cleanly and the second rattled in, the Hornets trailed by just one. Kalamazoo coach Michelle Fortier then inexplicitly elected to leave just one player in the box to try to grab the rebound if Neu missed her third free-throw.

When the ball bounced off the side of the rim, three Belles’ out-muscled the lone Hornet for the rebound.

With the win, the Belles (8-9, 3-5 MIAA) climbed to a fourth-place tie in the MIAA.