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SMC Basketball: Irish fall to Cardinals in Big East Tourney

Meaghan Veselik | Monday, November 23, 2009

Saint Mary’s moved its record to 2-1 this weekend as it traveled to the Bluffton University Tip-Off Tournament, losing Friday to Wheaton College and defeating Oberlin in the consolation final Saturday.

“We struggled our first game because we could not hold our lead during crucial possessions,” sophomore forward Kelley Murphy said. “However, we improved as a team the next game by our aggressive defense, and smart offensive conversions by attacking them with our inside game.”

Friday saw the Belles fight the Thunder up until the last minute, when Wheaton went on a 5-0 scoring run to win the game 78-73. The two teams traded the lead 13 times and were tied on 12 occasions.

Four different Belles players scored in double digits. Sophomore forward Jessica Centa led Saint Mary’s with 14 points. Sophomore guards Maggie Ronan and Patsy Mahoney each put in 12 points, while Murphy added 11. Senior forward Anna Kammrath led the Belles for rebounds with nine, followed by Murphy with eight. Junior guard Liz Wade led in assists with six.

Saint Mary’s and Wheaton were tied at 42 at halftime, but the Belles were able to hold onto the lead for most of the second half before the Thunder tied it again with 2:57 left with a three-pointer. Kammrath took back the lead at 2:30 with a layup, but it wasn’t enough to hold onto for a win. The Thunder outscored the Belles by seven points in the final 1:37 of the game.

“We hope to continue improving our defense and communication in every game and every practice,” Murphy said.

Saturday afternoon saw a change in pace for the Belles as they defeated Oberlin 74-37.  Taking control early in the game with a 10-0 run, Saint Mary’s never looked back. The Yeowomen gained on the Belles within five points, but fell behind as the Belles pushed their lead to 37-16 at the half. Saint Mary’s outscored Oberlin 54-8 in the paint and 37-9 off turnovers as they shot over 40 percent from the floor.

Murphy led the Belles with a career-high 19 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double. She was also named to the All-Tournament Team for her performance throughout the weekend. Kammrath had eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds to add to the Belles win.

Every member of the Belles team scored in the win.

Up next for Saint Mary’s is North Central College in Naperville, Ill. The Belles will take on the Cardinals at 6 p.m. Saturday.