Belles travel to Olivet
Andrew Robinson | Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Coming off a much-needed 67-64 overtime victory against Albion on Saturday, Saint Mary’s will go on the road Wednesday to face a formidable conference opponent in Olivet.
The Comets (14-2, 6-1 MIAA) are riding a nine-game winning streak heading into the matchup and are currently second in the MIAA standings. The Belles (5-11, 3-4) are hoping to build off the momentum from Saturday’s win and bring the streak to an end, Belles coach Jennifer Henley said.
“I felt our Saturday game against Albion showed a lot of positives for our team,” Henley said. “We had some great moments at both ends of the court.”
After Albion forced the game into overtime, Saint Mary’s caught fire and went on an 8-0 run to begin the overtime period. More importantly, according to Henley, the Belles were able to make key stops on the defensive end, which they will need to do in the game against Olivet.
The Comets are led by junior center Stefanie Lang, who has dominated opponents this season, putting up 21.8 points per game and snagging 14.3 rebounds per game.
“She gives them a huge advantage on the inside,” Henley said. “We need to take away all passing lanes that lead to Lang.”
Lang’s presence in the paint is supplemented by a fast-pace backcourt that consists of senior guards Chelsea Ciba and Kelsey Campbell, who have averaged 13.8 and 10.9 points per game, respectively, this season. Campbell also contributes 9.3 assists per game, adding her distributing ability to the Comets’ versatile offense.
“[Ciba and Campbell] are very good at attacking in the transition game,” Henley said, “We can’t let [them] get easy looks.”
Saint Mary’s is not lacking in recent standout performers either — junior forward Ariana Paul was named the MIAA Player of the Week after averaging 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last week.
“Ariana has been playing very well for us,” Henley said. “I’m sure Olivet is going to focus on her.”
In the win against Albion, Paul contributed 21 points and 14 rebounds. Senior guard Shanlynn Bias added 19 points in the contest, bringing her to a team-high season average of 14.3 points per game.
Henley, however, repeatedly stressed she is primarily concerned with the Belles’ defensive efforts.
“Our approach hasn’t changed much from game to game — our focus has to be on the defensive end of things,” she said. “We need to find a way to get more defensive stops … and shut down points in the paint.”
Their defensive preparation will certainly be tested by the potent offense of the Comets, who average 75.3 points per game and who out-rebound their opponents by 12.7 rebounds per game.
Saint Mary’s will travel to Olivet on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Contact Andrew Robinson at email@example.com