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SMC Basketball: Belles edge Hornets in late moments

Dan Cooper | Monday, February 12, 2007

Saint Mary’s point guard Bridget Lipke hit her second free-throw with seven seconds remaining, which ended a second-half Kalamazoo surge and gave the Belles a 62-60 victory Saturday at the Anderson Athletic Center in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Kalamazoo (3-19, 2-12 MIAA) entered the game on an eight- game losing skid, winning only one of their previous 14 games. Saint Mary’s (10-11, 9-5 MIAA), on the other hand, had won four of its last five and appeared on a roll before Saturday’s scare.

The Belles jumped to an early lead but struggled down the stretch.

The Hornets ended the game on a 14-4 run before Lipke’s free throw gave the Belles a 62-58 lead. Though junior Kalamazoo guard Therese Demres hit a layup with one second left, Kalamazoo didn’t have time for another score.

“It was senior day [for Kalamazoo] and they played with emotion,” Saint Mary’s coach Jennifer Henley said. “They are a scrappy team, and we couldn’t put them away.”

Lipke hit a jumper with 10:51 left in the first half that gave the Belles a 10-point lead at 18-8. Saint Mary’s maintained that lead and was in control 32-22 at the half.

The second half, though, was a different story.

The Hornets came out of the locker room on fire, jumping out to a 15-5 run which cut Saint Mary’s lead to 38-37 with 14:15 remaining.

The Belles responded over the next eight minutes and built a seemingly comfortable 58-46 lead. But they couldn’t put Kalamazoo away, making only one field goal in the final six minutes.

On a night when guard Allison Kessler struggled with 3-of-17 shooting from the floor, Saint Mary’s received contributions from the bench. Sophomore guard Katie Rashid stepped up with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

“Katie stepped up and hit some buckets,” Henley. “She really took the pressure off of Allison.”

Though Kessler struggled from the field, she was able to get to the foul line and knock down 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Kessler also reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career becoming only the eighth player in Saint Mary’s basketball history to accomplish the feat.

“It is a huge, huge milestone especially as a junior at the college level,” Henley said. “[Reaching the milestone] was definitely something we talked about as a team, and we are all proud of her.”

Saint Mary’s returns home to face Albion at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Saint Mary’s lost 72-69 in their last meeting at Albion on Jan. 17.