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SMC Basketball: Belles get late surge, beat Albion

Brendan Bell | Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saint Mary’s displayed the importance of senior leadership Wednesday night, as senior forwards Kelley Murphy and Jessica Centa guided the Belles to a 70-62 victory over Albion.

“We are riding our seniors,” Belles coach Jennifer Henley said. “There isn’t one particular player that we need to help — ­ we­­ all do.”

The significance of experience has never been more evident for the Belles (10-11, 6-6 MIAA) than when they found themselves tied against the Britons (13-7, 8-4 MIAA) with five minutes remaining in the contest. At a critical point in the game, Saint Mary’s was able to fall back on its seniors for 16 of its final 17 points.

Murphy and Centa’s offensive production, along with strong defensive play from the team as a whole, helped Saint Mary’s slowly work its way up to an eight point lead, a lead it maintained for the rest of the game.

“We all have to step up,” Henley said. “We have to do that on the defensive end.”

While the Britons shot 46 percent from the floor for the game, in the last five minutes the Belles held them to just nine points. The Belles also held the advantage on the boards, out-rebounding the Britons by a count of 42-26. Murphy was a big contributor to that tally, grabbing 11 boards of her own.

“[Murphy] had a pretty solid week for us on both ends of the court,” Henley said. “We’ve been talking to her about her rebounding ability, and I think that showed up this week.”

Saint Mary’s will continue to lean on its seniors during the final stretch of the regular season. Under the new structure of the MIAA tournament, the top four teams will play for the conference title, providing an additional incentive for the Belles to earn a postseason berth.

“With this being the first year that the MIAA has gone to this four team playoff with basketball, I think this entire team is really focused on making sure we are one of those four,” Henley said. “We kind of had some bumps and bruises with key losses early in the season that we are to avenge right now as we go through the second round.”

The Belles look to earn another conference victory when they take the court Saturday at 3 p.m. at Olivet.


Contact Brendan Bell at bbell2@nd.edu