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SMC Basketball: Belles break record for victories

Matt DeFranks | Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saint Mary’s closed a record-breaking regular season Saturday with a 77-65 win over Kalamazoo, winning its 18th game of the year for a new program record for single-season wins to surpass the 2008-09 team’s mark of 17.

The Belles (18-7, 11-5 MIAA) have also broken the program’s single-season team free throws record. Saint Mary’s has made 530 free throws to surpass the previous record of 484.

Over the weekend, junior forward Kelley Murphy became the ninth Belle to ever score 1,000 points in a career. She posted her 11th double-double of the year against the Hornets (5-19, 4-12), scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

“Kelley is having a solid junior season,” Belles coach Jenn Henley said. “The fact that she was able to score her 1,000th point as a junior says a lot about the type of teammates she has and their efforts in getting her the ball.”

Saint Mary’s, which pounded Kalamazoo by 31 points earlier this season, did not lead on Saturday until sophomore guard Annie Doyle made a layup with 8:37 left in the first half to give the Belles a 21-19 edge. Kalamazoo had previously led by as much as eight, following an early 7-0 run to start the game.

“We knew they were going to come out with a lot of emotion and energy, as it was their senior day,” Henley said. “They did a great job of attacking the middle with their drives and we didn’t have an answer for it early on.”

Despite shooting just 32 percent from the field, Saint Mary’s went into the half tied 39-39 after junior guard Patsy Mahoney nailed three free throws. Mahoney finished with 17 points, including 2-for-5 shooting from the 3-point line and 7-for-7 at the charity stripe.

The Belles flipped the script in the second half, holding the Hornets to 26 points in the second half after allowing them to shoot 49 percent in the first.

“We started hitting more of our shots and picked up the intensity in defending the paint,” Henley said. “We continued to push the ball in transition and got the momentum going in our favor.”

The Hornets had four players in double figures but were led by senior guard Courtney Kaplan. Kaplan had 20 points and went 6-for-11 from 3.

With the win, the Belles clinched the No. 3 seed in the MIAA tournament and will host Trine on Tuesday, marking a top-four MIAA finish for the Belles every year since 2006.

Saint Mary’s beat the Thunder (7-17, 5-11) twice this season by a combined 32 points, as the Belles defense has allowed just 55 points per game.

Murphy and junior guard Maggie Ronan have averaged a combined 33 points per game in the two victories.

But Henley isn’t letting her team get too confident before the start of the tournament tonight.

“I think they will be better prepared for us then they were last time,” Henley said. “When you play a team for the third time in one season, you know each other very well.”

The Belles will face Trine tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Angela Athletic Facility to open the MIAA tournament.