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SMC Basketball: Belles look to stay hot in December

Joe Wirth | Friday, December 3, 2010

After one of the most successful Novembers in school history, Saint Mary’s is set to take on No. 23 Calvin Saturday in the Belles’ home and conference opener.

The Belles (5-1) are led by junior forward Kelley Murphy, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding and is averaging nearly a double-double with 15.8 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game. Saint Mary’s is also receiving big contributions from junior guard Maggie Ronan, who is averaging 12.5 points per game.

The Knights opened their conference season with a 75-40 victory over Adrian, giving them a record of 4-2 overall and 1-0 in MIAA play. If the Belles are going to win they must find a way to contain preseason All-American Carissa Verkaik, who is averaging 22.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Belles interim coach Patrick Daniel said he knows what kind of challenge his team will be up against Saturday.

“Calvin was picked to finish second in our conference and they have been ranked in the Division III top-25 this year,” Daniel said. “Calvin is very well-coached and returns some very good players.”

He said his team must execute at a high level and avoid any sloppy play, but he feels the opening stretch of their schedule has prepared his team well.

“We must play great pressure defense, control the boards, limit our turnovers and execute on offense to give ourselves the opportunity to be successful in our first home game of the year,” Daniel said. “Being on the road in our first six games hopefully has prepared this team for conference play that I believe will very competitive this year. Playing Calvin will be a great test for us in our conference opener.”

Saturday’s game will begin at 3 p.m.