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Belles fired up for difficult finale

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 17, 2006

Saint Mary’s will take on Hope College in Holland, Mich. Saturday in the team’s last regular-season game.

The Belles are coming off a tough loss to Albion on Wednesday night but were able to hold their spot at third in the MIAA standings. And the team is more motivated than ever.

“We’re definitely fired up,” Belles sophomore forward Beanya Broderick said. “We want to finish the season the best we can and start the postseason even better. We’re really motivated.”

The Belles will still have quite a challenge on their hands, as the Flying Dutch enter Saturday’s season finale at 23-1 with a perfect 15-0 record in the MIAA. The Belles last played Hope on Nov. 30 and lost in a rout, 77-38. Saint Mary’s has improved since then, but Hope is the same dominant squad.

“It’s hard to say [where Saint Mary’s is compared to Hope] because the beginning of the season is so different, but they’re an all-around solid team from the one- to five-positions,” Broderick said. “I’m not surprised [they are still undefeated].”

Senior forward Shelly Bender was less impressed.

“I didn’t think they were going to be undefeated,” she said. “They’re good, but not unbeatable … I don’t think that [Hope’s perfect MIAA record] will affect us at all.”

The Belles have seen what Hope can do, but after a whole season, they are confident they can force a different result this time.

“We need to play an all around solid game, from a post perspective, point guard, shooting guard,” Broderick said. “We’re looking to dictate.”

Bender also thought her team should stick to the game plan that’s been driving the winning ways.

“We don’t need to change, just play like we know how to play,” she said. “We can win if we do that. [Hope] was our first home game. Now we’ve played for two months, improved, and we know we’re going to do well.”

Despite their struggles last time, the Belles think that a season’s experience will make this contest much more competitive.

“We are going in with a lot more confidence, more experience, and we’ve improved so much from November,” Broderick said. “Our coach has devised a really, really good game plan. We’re playing with more confidence, and, knowing that it is the last game this [regular] season, the seniors will give it all they have; lay it on the line, like they do every game.”

Bender also thought her team would play just as hard in their final regular season game.

“We’re just going to go out there and play,” she said. “We’ve been improving every day, and we’re planning to play a lot longer. Everyone is just more and more excited, and we’re building up to the tournament.”