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SMC Basketball: Belles prepare for MIAA foe Calvin

Peter Steiner | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

After compiling a 4-3 record over the break, the Belles are set to enter the final third of their schedule when they face off against undefeated MIAA opponent Calvin tonight.

Saint Mary’s (7-9) recently completed the last of its nonconference schedule with a loss to No. 2 Chicago followed by two wins in the Otterbein Smokey Ballenger Classic in Westerville, Ohio.

Though the Belles held the advantage over the Maroons going into halftime, the Maroons pulled away with 13-4 run late in the second half to win 70-60.

Even though they lost by 10 points at home, Belles coach Jenn Henley says her team still gained something from the loss.

“Chicago came in here ranked second in the country and we had them,” Henley said.  “I think we proved to ourselves that we can play with anybody as long as we are playing as a team.”

After an 11-day break, the Belles returned to action on Dec. 28 with a convincing 66-48 win over Case Western. They then followed up with second victory in Ohio, defeating Bluffton 68-57.

Henley said the Belles played some of their best basketball in these games.

“I think we played really well in Ohio,” Henley said. “The kids were having fun playing.  They were sharing the ball. They were attacking the basket. They were getting stops. We finally got to the point where we were back to our style of basketball.”

While their nonconference schedule was finished, the Belles had four more conference games to play. On Jan. 4, the Belles traveled to Michigan to face off against Adrian. However, after shooting 33.3 percent from the field compared to Adrian’s 53.8 percent, the Belles lost 62-52. 

Returning home to face Olivet, the Belles, led by senior forward Kelley Murphy and her 15 points, took down the Comets 67-54. Yet in their next home conference game, the Belles suffered another fourth quarter loss, this time to Albion. The game was tied 39-39 with 10:40 remaining in the second half, but Albion went on a 20-1 run in the last six minutes of the game to win 72-52.

In their final conference match, the Belles took down Kalamazoo 61-52. Led by 16 points from senior Patsy Mahoney, the Belles were able to get their first road win of the season.

Henley said the biggest improvements the Belles need to make are on the defensive side of the ball.

“We have to get more consistent with our defense without a doubt,” Henley said. “We have to do a better job on the boards and boxing teams out.  We can’t give up as many offensive boards as we have been doing and then offensively we need to continue to attack the basket and get to the free throw line.”

The Belles will hope to improve in some of these aspects when they face Calvin tonight. Though Calvin is ranked first in the MIAA conference, Henley says the Belles are accustomed to playing such tough competition in the MIAA.

“It seems like in the past couple of years, if it’s not Calvin ranked in the top five, it’s Hope,” Henley said. “We are used to that. It’s nothing we are intimidated by. It’s normal for this league to have somebody ranked that high in conference. We are prepping again today to stop their inside game and take care of business.”

The Belles play Calvin at home tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu