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SMC Basketball: Ronan’s 31 lead Belles to victory

Matthew DeFranks | Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another game, another career night for a Saint Mary’s guard. For the third time in the last four games, a Belle notched a career-high in points.

On Wednesday night, it was junior Maggie Ronan’s turn, pouring in 31 points — including 13-for-15 shooting from the foul line — and leading the Belles to a 76-66 victory over Olivet at the Angela Athletic Facility. Ronan broke the 23-point mark she set eight days ago in a win over Trine.

Coming into the game, Belles coach Jenn Henley wanted to keep the Comets (6-12, 5-5 MIAA) strong driving game in check and limit their free-throw attempts.

“We were getting a lot of help [defense] and forced the kick-out pass for the outside shot,” Henley said. “We knew Olivet wasn’t a good 3-point shooting team and that’s where we wanted them to have the ball.”

The Comets shot 7-for-27 on 3-point attempts and 5-for-10 from the foul line. The Belles (13-6, 6-4) also outscored Olivet 46-30 in the paint.

Despite 13 first-half points from Ronan and 11 early Olivet turnovers, Saint Mary’s entered halftime down 33-31. Comet junior forward Alysia Cole, who finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds, pulled down 13 boards in the first half alone.

Following an Olivet jumper by senior center Tiffany Thelen with 16:05 remaining in the second half, the Comet lead ballooned to a game-high eight points.

Over the next 11:10, it was all Saint Mary’s, ripping off a 26-6 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a 12-point lead. During that stretch, Ronan chipped in 10 of her 31 points and freshman forward Domini Paradiso scored seven of her 13 points.

“We took advantage of our strength and drove the ball to the basket,” Henley said. “We did a good job of holding them in spurts with no points and forcing the bad shot.”

In the second half, the Belles shot 17-for-24 from the free-throw line, compared to Olivet’s 3-for-4 shooting.

“We tell our kids to attack the basket, to try to get to the foul line, to try and get that three-point play,” Henley said. “From a conference standpoint, we have made more free throws than most teams have attempted.”

Down the stretch, it was Ronan and junior guard Patsy Mahoney, who finished the game with 15 points, icing the game with clutch free throws.

The Belles return to action Saturday in a road tilt with Alma (1-17, 0-9). Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.