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SMC Basketball

Buzzer-beating layup pushes Olivet past Belles

| Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Despite leading for the first 16 minutes of the second half, Saint Mary’s was unable to withstand a frantic Olivet rally in the final minutes, as the Belles fell to the Comets 70-68 Wednesday night.

“We played a great game tonight,” Belles coach Jenn Henley said. “We just went cold from the floor in the last eight minutes. Still, I’m proud of the way our team played tonight.”

After an 11-2 run put the Belles (5-12,  3-5 MIAA) up 61-52 with 8:33 left in the game, Saint Mary’s looked well on their way to their fourth conference win, but Olivet (15-2, 7-1) would not go away, going on a 12-3 run of their own to take their first lead of the second half with 3:47 left on the clock.

The Belles kept the deficit within three, and after Comets senior guard Kelsey Campbell split two free throws, the Belles had the ball down 68-65 with an opportunity to tie the game with 22 seconds left. Belles sophomore guard Maddie Kohler found herself with a wide-open three-point attempt from the left wing and hit the shot to tie the game with 10 seconds to go.

Coming out of a Comets timeout, Olivet senior guard Chelsea Siba went coast-to-coast, draining a circus shot layup with four-tenths of a second left to give the Comets the win.

“We had our chances to put this one away down the stretch,” Henley said. “We just let them stay around too long, and they made the most of it.”

It was a tale of two halves for the Belles, who, after, battling back and forth with the Comets in the opening minutes of the first half, opened up a nine-point lead going into halftime thanks to 56 percent shooting from the field. The Belles weren’t nearly as effective in the second half, however, shooting 35.5 percent, while the Comets rebounded from a poor first half by sinking 50 percent of their shots in the second to fuel their comeback.

Despite winning the turnover battle 17-14, Henley said the turnovers the Belles did commit were costly.

“Our turnovers down the stretch really were what gave Olivet the momentum in the closing minutes,” Henley said.

Belles sophomore forward Krista Knapke led all scorers with a season-high 23 points, while junior forward and MIAA Player of the Week Ariana Paul notched 12 points for the Belles. Senior guard Shanlynn Bias added 10 points and six rebounds.

The Belles are off this weekend, but will attempt to climb back into the thick of the MIAA race when they take on Adrian at 7:30 next Wednesday at home.

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