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SMC Basketball: Belles struggle to win at Thanksgiving Classic

Brendan Bell | Monday, November 26, 2012

Saint Mary’s had a challenging Thanksgiving break, as the Belles (2-3) fell in both games of the Saint Mary’s College Thanksgiving Classic at their home court.

“This past weekend played two veteran teams,” Belles coach Jennifer Henley said. “Despite both losses, we saw some great moments of basketball from our young squad.”

On Saturday Saint Mary’s faced Otterbein in the first game of the tournament. The Belles fell behind the Cardinals (3-1) early on, and by the midway point of the first half, the Belles had fallen behind by nine points. Saint Mary’s freshman forward Krista Knapke helped keep the Belles in the game, though, as she hit a pair of jumpers along with two free throws to bring the score within six points. Knapke continued to score and had a team-high 13 points in the game, but it was not enough for the Belles, as the Cardinals were able to pull away and gain a 14-point advantage by halftime. Knapke, along with a number of other freshmen, have helped provide offense for the team this year. Coach Henley said the younger players have provided a spark to the team.

“Last year we graduated five seniors and knew this season we would be very young,” Henley said. “This year’s squad is highly energetic and very passionate about the game. They play hard each and every day and continue to get better.”

Saint Mary’s had a quick turnaround from its Saturday contest, as they played Ohio Northern on Sunday afternoon, but fell again. The Belles were tied with the Polar Bears (4-1) by the score of 13-13, before Ohio Northern tallied 11 straight points in a four-minute period. Sophomore forward Ariana Paul lead the Belles in scoring with 16 points, followed by Knapke with 14 points and junior guard Shanlynn Bias with 13 . With the pair of losses, the Belles fell to one game under .500, but now turn to MIAA conference play against Adriane. Coach Henley sait Adrian’s experience will be a big factor in the game Wednesday.

“We know Adrian returns some key players from last season,” Henley said. “They will look to control the tempo of the game.”

Henley hope the Belles will be able to prevent scoring runs that have occurred in the past few games, and better execute on offense in order to prevent getting behind early on.

“We need to be ready to play better transition defense and attack on offense in order to be successful,” Henley said.