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SMC Basketball: Fourth-place Belles to face MIAA rival Olivet

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Two MIAA rivals will vie for third place in the conference tonight at 7:30 p.m. when Saint Mary’s travels to Olivet with hopes of avenging a 92-55 loss to the Comets on Jan. 5.

The win last month gave Olivet a perfect 4-0 record, and Saint Mary’s fell to 3-2. However, tonight the Comets might have trouble recognizing the team they played before.

The Belles have run their record to 9-11 overall and 7-4 in the MIAA, good enough for fourth place in the conference – right behind Olivet and its 8-2 conference mark. The Belles have won two straight and four of their last five, all against conference opponents.

A win tonight would put pressure on the Comets to hold their lead, as the Belles look to continue to improve upon their record under first-year head coach Steve Bender, who has the team on pace for its best MIAA finish ever.

Despite their recent success, the Belles know they will have to play hard to overcome Olivet on its home court and want nothing more than to get even after their last loss.

“Everyone is definitely ready from our loss last time,” sophomore forward Beanya Broderick said. “Everyone is hungry to win, hungry to do well. We’ve been working hard, [and] we’re definitely mentally prepared.”

Senior forward Shelly Bender echoed Broderick’s thoughts, saying her team can’t be thinking about their loss to Olivet when they play them tonight.

“We just came out flat,” Bender said of her team’s loss to the Comets. “That game was over break, we all had different schedules. Being in a routine, riding the bus together, it’s a totally different mentality.

“We’re just going to play hard like we would against any other team. We’ve got to be aggressive – don’t back down.”

Broderick also stressed how her team needed to play hard right from the start to get the win this time.

“We’re looking to attack, be really aggressive on both ends of the court and play like we know how to play,” she said. “We’ve go to be in attack mode, ready to go.”

The Belles also know that, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, they’ve still got a lot of work ahead if they hope to finish strong in the MIAA.

Saint Mary’s will finish up the regular season with four more conference games, including a contest at first-place Hope and a home matchup with second-place Calvin.

“We realize that [the season] is winding down,” Broderick said. “We’re ready to finish it out, but we’ve invested so much in it. Our coaches told us in May, ‘It’s not how we start, its how we end. We have to finish hard.’ The coaches have been great at keeping everyone working hard, keeping everyone upbeat.”

“We want to play as well as we can play, winning is always on our mind,” Shelly Bender said. “But as long as we play 100 percent, play to our full potential, that’s all we can ask for.”