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SMC Basketball: Saint Mary’s falls to Calvin in home opener

Matt Gamber | Thursday, December 6, 2007

Saint Mary’s sophomore center Anna Kammrath summed up Wednesday’s frustrating 67-52 home-opening loss to Calvin the only way she (or any other Belle) could.

“It was just one of those nights,” said Kammrath, who tallied 13 points and nine rebounds in the defeat. “What can you do?”

Not much else could be said after a game in which the Belles managed to hit only one of their 20 three-point attempts and shoot 28 percent from the floor.

The performance wasn’t what Jennifer Henley hoped for or expected from her talented squad, especially not for its first home game with a conference opponent.

“It wasn’t necessarily Calvin’s defense as much as us having an off night,” Henley said of her team’s countless failed attempts to score from the field.

To the visiting Knights’ credit, their bench trampled that of the Belles, outscoring it 25-4 and keeping the hosts from recovering from a horrendous first half (7-of-36 from the field). Timely defense, time-consuming ball movement and the dominating presence of forward Marcia Harris (23 points, 11-12 on free throws) helped Calvin build a 24-point lead midway through the second half.

“This was huge for us,” Ross said. “This is a very difficult place to play and this is a very talented Saint Mary’s team. Defense was the whole key for us tonight … we try to stick to our principles, and we know that if we do that, we’ll be OK.”

That they were, especially after a 13-0 run that spanned more than nine minutes and gave the Knights a 21-7 lead.

“You know, 29 percent from the floor is just terrible,” Kammrath said. “I don’t why at home…it’s just a lot of frustration – nothing fell. You have to keep shooting regardless, but just nothing fell.”

After trailing 28-16 at the break, Jennifer Henley hoped her squad could find its shot and re-commit to the game plan of pushing the ball down the floor with junior point guard Megan Conaty.

Conaty could feed Kammrath and junior Erin Newsom to open opportunities for duel-threats Alison Kessler and Katie Rashid.

“We wanted to try and attack in the second half, make them foul us so we could score with the clock stopped,” said Henley, whose plan saw the Belles make 12 of their 13 second-half free throw attempts after going to the line just twice in the first half. “[Calvin] did a good job of keeping their composure, running their offense, and milking the clock, which put us in a bit of a hurry-up offense. We looked to drive and hopefully draw the foul, which we did do a couple of times, but we could’ve done it a lot more. We needed a little help from the stripes on that one.”

Even when Kessler did get something going, Calvin always seemed to grab that extra offensive rebound or force that final errant pass.

“They had an answer,” Henley said. “There’s a reason why they’re ranked near the top of the country. Calvin’s a good team. It’s just if our shots would have fallen in the first half, maybe it’s a different story.”

And, if the Belles have anything so say about it, it will be when the two teams meet again on Jan. 23 in Grand Rapids.

As for now, Saint Mary’s will turn to Saturday’s game against Tri-State, another conference foe.

“Welcome to the MIAA; that’s what it’s all about,” Henley said. “You have to bring your ‘A’ game every night, and tonight we didn’t do that – especially in the first half. We just had too much to dig out of, and Calvin had an answer for everything we did tonight.”