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SMC Basketball: Belles look to earn first conference win of season

By Brendan Bell | Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Heading into the last week of classes, the Belles will remain busy by playing two games and looking to tally their first conference win of the season.

The Belles (2-5, 0-2 MIAA) fell to Olivet College on Saturday afternoon by a score of 79-75. Belles coach Jennifer Henley said while the teams went back and forth in sharing the lead, failure to execute the small details of the game lost it for Saint Mary’s.

“Our game against Olivet was a tough battle,” Henley said. “Both teams made their runs offensively. We gave up too many offensive boards throughout the game and that hurt us in the end.”

The Belles were up 44-39 at halftime, but let the Comets (4-1, 2-0) go on a 15-2 run at the beginning of the second half to make it 54-46. Saint Mary’s tried to chip away at the lead and near the end of the game trailed by one point, with the score at 76-75.

The Belles had a number of good looks from the floor that they could not convert on, and were subsequently forced to foul. The game ended with Olivet knocking down three free throws to bring the final score to 79-75. Sophomore forward Ariana Paul scored 20 points for the Belles and led the way, with junior guard Shanlynn Bias adding 17 points of her own. Despite strong individual performances, Henley said a big factor in the close decision against Olivet game was rebounding.

“We need to continue to improve in controlling the boards as well as one-on-one defense,” she said.

Looking forward to her team’s next two tests, Henley said the Belles will face tough competition against Kalamazoo and Alma, forcing them to fix some of their flaws.

“Both Kalamazoo and Alma will present a challenge for us,” Henley said. “We need to be ready to attack on offense and continue to play better transition defense.”

Alma (1-3, 1-0) recently captured a 65-44 victory over Kalamazoo (0-4,0-2) when the two teams squared off Saturday. The Belles will face the Hornets today when they travel to Kalamazoo, Mich. Saint Mary’s will then host Alma on Saturday.

Henley said this week will be difficult because her players are concluding classes and looking to find the balance between athletics and academics.

“Heading into the last week of classes before finals, we certainly need to make sure we are prepared mentally,” the seventh-year coach said.

Saint Mary’s will do its best to earn a win in MIAA play tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Contact Brendan Bell at bbell@nd.edu