SMC Basketball: Belles stay red hot, triumph over Olivet
Dan Cooper | Thursday, February 1, 2007
There may be a blizzard in South Bend, but no one told the Belles.
Saint Mary’s has caught fire of late, convincingly winning its fourth straight game when beating Olivet 81-72 last night.
With the win, Saint Mary’s improves to 9-10 on the year and 8-4 in the MIAA, Olivet falls to 9-9 and 6-5 in league play. The victory means the Belles will maintain their third place standing in the MIAA, and their lead over Olivet in the conference standings is now one and a half games.
The Belles built a strong lead throughout the first half and held on in the second half for the victory. Entering the locker room at half the Belles led the Comets 43-31, and it was a lead they would not surrender.
The Comets made a run with 12:58 remaining to pull within seven, but the Belles responded with a 15-2 run to make it 67-47 and never looked back.
On paper the Comets and Belles played an even game. Olivet turned the ball over two more times than Saint Mary’s (14-12) but out-rebounded the Belles 35-33. The Comets shot 43 percent from the field compared to Saint Mary’s 45 percent.
Free throws ended up being the key to Saint Mary’s victory. The Comets shot a higher percentage from the charity stripe, but the Belles were able to get to the line more often. The Comets made 80 percent of their 20 free-throw attempts, while the Belles made 72 percent of their 36 shots.
Junior guard Alison Kessler scored a career-high 34 points, recording three steals and hitting a career high 14 free throws on 15 attempts from the line.
Unlike last game, Kessler was not alone in her success. Senior point guard Bridget Lipke stepped up and dropped 16 points and dished a team best five assists.
Sophomore forward Erin Newsome continued her hot streak, posting her second straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Patty Duffy was impressive off the bench contributing eight points in 20 minutes.
The Belles have now won four consecutive MIAA games for the first time since they joined the league during the 1998-1999 season.
Senior forward Audrey Graham led the Comets with 17 points in the losing effort.
The Belles travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., to face the Calvin Knights – 18-1 overall and 11-0 in the MIAA – at 3 p.m. Saturday. Calvin won a close game at Saint Mary’s 53-52 in its last contest with the Belles Jan. 6.