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SMC Basketball: Yellow Jackets defy Belles’ best efforts

A.J. Godeaux | Monday, December 2, 2013

In a game full of back-and-forth runs and seven second-half lead changes, Saint Mary’s ultimately couldn’t hold off Defiance and fell, 77-71, Saturday.
Down 64-55 with 6:30 left on the clock, it looked like the Belles (2-4) might be able to come up with one last run against a stingy Yellow Jackets defense, cutting the lead to one when senior guard Shanlynn Bias sank a jumper from the top of the key with just under three minutes remaining to make it 65-64. The Belles went 2-6 after the Bias jumper, though, which Belles’ coach Jenn Henley credited to the Yellow Jackets’ zone defense.
“They switched to that zone in the second half, which gave us a lot of trouble,” Henley said. “Especially down the stretch, we got passive and didn’t attack as well as we could have.”
The Belles shot just 33 percent in the second half against the Yellow Jackets’ zone.
Early, it looked like the Belles might run the Yellow Jackets (2-2) out of the gym, jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first 3:16. After Defiance made a three pointer to cut the lead to 17-11, the Belles came back with another run, scoring seven unanswered points. But, as if on schedule, the Yellow Jackets went on a 10-2 run of their own, following it minutes later with a 9-2 run to close out the half with the Belles leading 34-32.
The first 10 minutes of the second half featured more back-and-forth action, as the lead changed seven times. But while trailing 52-49, the Yellow Jackets went on a 9-0 run to go up 58-52 and take the lead for good with just over eight minutes remaining.
“I thought the biggest problem for us was we just didn’t get to the [free-throw] line, especially in the second half” Henley said. “We needed to get to the line like we did in our win against Anderson, and we couldn’t against their defense.”
Despite allowing the Yellow Jackets to shoot 49 percent from the field in the second half, Henley said she wasn’t too disappointed in the Belles’ defense.
“It was a matter of them getting hot,” Henley said. “We gave up a few easy looks in transition, but they just had the momentum down the stretch.”
Four of the five Belles starters scored in double figures, as sophomore forward Krista Knapke paced the Belles with 24 points and 17 rebounds, both career-highs for the sophomore forward. 
“I thought Krista had a great game,” Henley said. “We are always looking to get paint points, and I think her teammates did a good job of finding her there. She was always around on the offensive boards and was able to convert a lot of those rebounds into points.”
Junior forward Ariana Paul added 15 points and eight boards for the Belles, while sophomore forward Eleni Shea and Bias pitched in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Belles open the MIAA season at Adrian on Wednesday.
Contact A.J. Godeaux at agodeaux@nd.edu