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SMC Basketball: Close contest awaits Belles

Dan Cooper | Friday, January 19, 2007

Saint Mary’s takes the court at home Saturday at 3 p.m. against Adrian in an important conference game.

The last time these two teams met, Saint Mary’s came from behind to beat the Bulldogs 56-48 at Adrian.

This time, Saint Mary’s plays host and a Belles victory would move them to third place in the MIAA. As it stands now, the Belles have a 4-4 conference record and are 5-10 overall. Adrian is 2-6 in the conference and 7-8 overall.

Sophomore guard Meghan Contay recognized the importance of this matchup.

“We can’t overlook them, they’re a scrappy team,” Contay said.

Contay also noted that the top four teams in the conference have the advantage of starting the conference tournament at home.

The game will feature two sharply contrasting offensive game plans. Adrian has a balanced offensive attack, with no single player averaging double figures in scoring. Saint Mary’s, on the other hand, runs its offense through junior guard Allison Kessler, who is averaging 19.9 points and 3.4 assists per game. She was also recently named MIAA Player of the Week.

“All five [starters] need to play aggressive D,” Contay said. “We need to make sure no single player has a stellar game.”

Rebounding has been a main focus in practice this week after Saint Mary’s was out-rebounded 42-28 in Wednesday’s loss to Albion.

“We struggled on the boards last week,” Contay said. “We’ve been working hard on rebounding in practice.”

The Belles will look to neutralize Kim Olech, the Bulldog’s leading scorer and rebounder. Adrian’s greatest strength is rebounding, with a positive rebound differential of 6.9 per game.

In their first meeting, Adrian out-rebounded Saint Mary’s 44-39 and the Belles have a negative turnover margin on the season.

Conversely, the Bulldogs greatest weakness is their tendency to turn the ball over. Adrian has a negative turnover margin of 3.3, and Saint Mary’s will look to exploit this weakness to come away with a victory.