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SMC Basketball: First-place Belles take on Thunder

Kate Grabarek | Friday, January 23, 2009

For the second time in a little over a month, the Saint Mary’s basketball team will take on MIAA rival Trine University, with tip-off set for Saturday at 3 p.m. On Dec. 3, the Belles took down Trine 80-72.

“In this league you can’t overlook anyone,” head coach Jen Henley said. “Records and standings never truly indicate the strength of a team.”

Trine is currently fifth in the conference standings with a 4-4 record, while Saint Mary’s is tied with Hope for the conference lead, with both teams only having one loss.

One of the biggest wins for the Belles this season came over No. 1 Hope.

“Our team never gave up in the Hope game,” Henley said. “We were down 10 points with 6:15 left to go. We did a nice job with the boards down the stretch and our bench gave us nice offense down the stretch.”

The Belles will need to continue their well-balanced attack to earn another win over Trine this time.

Senior Erin Newsom has been a key player for Saint Mary’s this season, breaking the school record for most all-time rebounds earlier in the year.

“I think we see all of the conference teams as big rivals,” Newsom said. “Some schools are seen as tougher teams to beat like Hope and Calvin, but we try to go into every game with the attitude that we need to play our best in order to win, regardless of the team we’re put up against.”

The Thunder were a tough match for the Belles last time out when they tied the game at 41-41 less than three minutes into the second half

However, the Belles stepped up to the challenge and opened up a 66-51 lead with 8:52 left to play. Trine never pulled within six points of the Belles the rest of the game.

The Belles most recent win came over Kalamazoo, only a week after dropping their only conference game so far this season.

Saint Mary’s got off to a great start in the game against Kalamazoo, opening up a 15-2 margin less than four minutes into the game.

Freshman Patsy Mahoney was a force in the Kalamazoo game, shooting a perfect 6-6 from the floor, including 2-2 from behind the three-point line.

“I think our freshmen have adapted well to their first season of college basketball,” Henley said. “I believe they understand what it takes to compete in this league as well as finding the balance between academics and athletics.”

The Belles will look to continue their inter-conference dominance in this game against Trine, and then they will travel to Calvin on Jan. 28. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. against Trine, and then 6 p.m. against Calvin.