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SMC Basketball: Saint Mary’s splits opening weekend

A.J. Godeaux | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Saint Mary’s tipped off its season this weekend at the Saint Norbert Tip-off Tournament in Green Bay, Wis., falling 107-61 to No. 2 Wisconsin-Whitewater on Friday before rebounding with a 83-33 win over Northland on Saturday.
“It was a crazy weekend,” Saint Mary’s coach Jenn Henley said. “The first night we’re playing one of the top teams in the country, and less than 24 hours later we play a team who only travelled six members of their squad. From a coaching standpoint, I didn’t exactly get a good impression of where our team is at.”
In the opening game, the Belles (1-1) committed 20 turnovers in the first half, and the Warhawks (2-0) didn’t fail to capitalize, scoring 25 of their first-half points off of Belles’ mishaps as they went into the break up 52-22.
“I thought Wisconsin-Whitewater certainly exposed some of our weaknesses, especially in the first half as it pertains to turnovers and handling defensive pressure,” Henley said.
After shooting only 31 percent in the first half, the Belles shot 51 percent from the field in the second half, but were unable to cut into the Warhawks’ lead. The Belles were 1-4 with three pointers and 4-8 from the free-throw line. UW-Whitewater shot 49 percent from the field, adding five three-pointers and sinking 10-14 from the charity stripe.
“All in all, I thought we played with them better in the second half,” Henley said.
Sophomore forward Eleni Shea led the way for the Belles with 15 points and six rebounds, while junior forward Ariana Paul added 14 points and seven rebounds.
In the second matchup of the tournament, the Belles took on Northland in the consolation round.
The Belles jumped out to a 22-0 lead to start the game and were not threatened by the LumberJills (0-2), as they carried a 41-19 lead into halftime. Senior guard Shanlynn Bias and freshman center Kelsey Ronan sparked the Belles with 10 points each in the opening half. The Belles continued to control the game on both ends of the floor in the second half, forcing 12 LumberJill turnovers, while shooting 54 percent from the field.
The Belles dominated the glass, outrebounding Northland 57-19, while putting up 18 second-chance points off of 28 offensive rebounds. Ten Belles saw playing time.
“We saw a lot of zone against Northland, which forced us to attack the gaps and open things up for our post players,” Henley said. ” We were also able to find holes in the zone to get offensive rebounds.”
Bias, who was named to the all-tournament team, finished with a game-high 16 points, while sophomore forward Krista Knapke tallied 12 points and 16 rebounds en route to her first double-double of the year.
Despite playing two teams at opposite ends of the competitive spectrum, Henley said the tournament still helped her team.
“At the end of the day, all of our non-conference opponents are used to get us ready for MIAA play,” Henley said. “I felt like Whitewater has helped us in that regard. The Northland game gave us the opportunity to play a lot of different combinations on the floor with our roster.”
The Belles take the floor next in a matchup against Buena Vista on Friday at 5 p.m. in the opening round of the Wheaton Tournament, held in Wheaton, Ill.
Contact A.J. Godeaux at agodeaux@nd.edu