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SMC Basketball

Belles drop final game to Brits

| Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Despite a solid start and a late scoring run, Saint Mary’s streaky offensive efforts were not enough to overcome an emotionally charged performance by Albion in both teams’ final game of the season Saturday at Kresge Gymnasium in Albion, Mich.

Although the game was without postseason consequences since both teams sit in the bottom half of conference standings, it was nonetheless a meaningful way for the players to wrap up their seasons, or in some cases, their careers.

It began with a touching gesture, as the Belles (7-18, 5-11 MIAA) allowed injured Brits senior guard Taylor Nugent to drive for an uncontested basket to begin her senior day matchup before being subbed out. The Brits (9-16, 5-11) remained within striking distance of the Belles to start, and a series of scores from Saint Mary’s senior guard and captain Shanlynn Bias made the game 16-15 in favor of Albion midway through the half.

Junior forward Ariana Paul dribbles downcourt in the Belles’ loss to Calvin on Jan. 15. Paul scored 18 points Saturday against Albion.Caroline Genco

Junior forward Ariana Paul dribbles downcourt in the Belles’ loss to Calvin on Jan. 15. Paul scored 18 points Saturday against Albion.

However, the Belles were unable to contain the scoring ability of senior guard Brett deBear, who led Albion on successive 10-2 and 9-0 runs to help take an eventual 43-29 lead into halftime.

“Albion was fired up and ready to go for their senior day,” Belles coach Jenn Henley said. “We had problems trying to contain their leader deBear, who killed us in the first half especially.”

Saint Mary’s fought back in the second half, but another 9-0 run by the Brits extended their lead to 56-35, a lead which they maintained comfortably for the rest of the game.

“I think my team played hard,” Henley said. “We made some runs in the second half, but time was against us.”

An energized 11-0 run by the Belles late in the half was not enough as the game was already out of reach, ending 77-65 in favor of the Brits.

DeBear, who averaged 18.0 points per game, was 13-19 from the field and ended up with 29 points on the day to cap off her career as the second-highest scorer in Albion’s history. Brits sophomore forward Emily DeWaters helped out on the boards, snagging 17 rebounds.

For the Belles, Bias finished out her career as a four-year contributor with a 19-point performance to finish the season at a team-high 14.7 points per game. The Belles’ other graduating senior and captain, forward Katherine Wabler, added eight points.

Saint Mary’s junior forward Ariana Paul had her third consecutive double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. She finished the season averaging 13.9 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game.

Despite the team’s losing record, Henley said she was positive and hopeful when evaluating the season and looking to next year.

“Moving forward, we look to build on how much our program has grown this past season,” she said. “We should return a lot of players who gained valuable experience this season.”

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