Belles look forward to playing undefeated Hope
Kit Loughran | Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Belles travel to Hope to take on the nationally-ranked and undefeated Flying Dutch tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Belles (6-15, 4-8 MIAA) battled No. 2 Hope (21-0, 13-0) earlier this season on Jan. 9, but the Belles could not pull out the win and fell 93-53. Despite the loss, Belles coach Jennifer Henley said her team realizes the magnitude of taking on the unbeaten Flying Dutch again.
“[Our] team looks forward to the challenges that Hope will present,” Henley said. “They are the No. 2 team in the country right now. We certainly have our hands full, but what a great opportunity to compete against a team of that caliber.”
The Flying Dutch are undefeated on the season, maintaining a 21-game winning streak and averaging 84.1 points per game. Compared to the Belles, who have yet to maintain a consistent winning streak and average 66 points per game, Hope enters tonight’s matchup as the heavy favorite.
Despite the difference in team statistics on the season, the Belles are preparing to take on the Flying Dutch just as they would any other team. The Belles specifically look to sustain their defense against Hope, Henley said.
“Our biggest challenge is once again defense,” Henley said. “Hope averages 84 points a game, and they do a great job on the boards as well. We have to make sure we box out and not give up second chance points.”
The Flying Dutch moved within one game of claiming the MIAA conference title after their 83-73 win over Adrian on Saturday. A victory over the Belles would clinch that title.
Most recently, the Belles fell 71-66 to Kalamazoo on Saturday. Due to a lack of defense, Saint Mary’s was unable to maintain a strong lead. From an offensive standpoint, Kalamazoo had the advantage over the Belles, but individually the Belles generated strong performances on the court. Senior guard Shanlynn Bias led the Belles with 18 points and junior forward Ariana Paul followed closely behind with 16 points.
While the Belles have Bias and Paul running their attack, the Flying Dutch are led by sophomore forward Maura McAfee and senior guard Brittany Berry, who average of 14.6 and 8.2 points per game, respectively.
The Flying Dutch might be playing for the conference title, but Henley said she wants her players and team as a whole to grow in this game against Hope, even with the season coming to a close.
“I hope that the youth of my team continues to improve, especially against one of the best teams in the country,” Henley said. “I want them to battle and prepare to send our seniors off on a great note as our season starts to come to a close.”
The Belles battle undefeated Hope tonight at DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, Mich. at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Kit Loughran at [email protected]