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SMC Basketball: Saint Mary’s secures second season victory over Scots

Peter Steiner | Sunday, January 22, 2012

Utilizing a fast start and a strong finish, the Belles defeated Alma 69-61 Saturday night to earn their second MIAA conference road victory of the season.

Even after making the roughly three and a half hour trip to Art Smith Arena, the Belles (8-10, 4-5 MIAA) came out hot against the Scots (4-14, 2-7), scoring the first four field goals of the game.

The Scots rebounded quickly, however, and with the 9:40 left in the first half they took their first lead of the game. Yet with eight points from senior forward Jessica Centa in the last nine minutes of the first half, it was the Belles who held the 34-29 advantage at halftime.

The second half mirrored the first as the Belles started the half on a 6-0 run. But also like the first half, the Scots reduced the Belles’ lead to one point by the 11:35 mark. In the end, an 11-0 run by the Belles in the last five minutes put the game away and moved Saint Mary’s one win closer to reaching .500 in conference play.

Even though Alma outshot Saint Mary’s from the field — 39 percent compared to 36.1 percent — free throws ultimately proved to be the difference as the Belles’ scored 13 more points from the line. In fact, seven of the Belles’ 11 points to end the second half came off free throws.

Senior forward Kelley Murphy led the Belles with 18 points while sophomore guard Shanlynn Bias added a career high 15 points and four steals.

Unlike their first matchup, in which Saint Mary’s won 72-50 and did not trail once, the second contest proved to be much more competitive with six ties and six lead changes in the game.

Belles coach Jenn Henley said her team recognized how important this second round of conference games is for their postseason hopes, especially given the new playoff format.

“The MIAA has gone to a four-team playoff system instead of where the top eight teams get in,” Henley said. “Now it’s only the top four that get into the conference tournament so we definitely need to align ourselves in terms of our standings to be one of those top four teams to make the tournament. That’s certainly on the minds of everyone on this team.”

With only seven conference games to play, the Belles’ 4-5 MIAA record puts them in sole possession of fourth place.

Saint Mary’s will face off against Trine at home Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

 

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu