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SMC Basketball

Belles struggle against press but still claim victory

| Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Belles overcame 27 turnovers to notch their second road conference victory with a 59-50 victory over Trine on Saturday.

“We struggled with Trine’s full court pressure,” Belles coach Jenn Henley said. “Normally, that’s way too many turnovers to win a game, but we made up for it in other ways.”

Belles freshman guard Kristen Kleist looks to distribute the ball during Saint Mary's 95-68 loss to Calvin on Jan. 15. Against Trine on Monday night, Kleist finished with only two points.Caroline Genco

Belles freshman guard Kristen Kleist looks to distribute the ball during Saint Mary’s 95-68 loss to Calvin on Jan. 15. Against Trine on Monday night, Kleist finished with only two points.

The Belles (6-13, 4-6 MIAA) were able to hold the Thunder (4-14, 1-8) to less than 30 percent shooting from the floor in the first half and 35 percent for the game. Saint Mary’s grabbed an early 4-3 lead three minutes into the game and never relinquished it.

“Our defense is getting better and better,” Henley said. “We still have work to do, but this was a step in the right direction, especially the first half.

“We really wanted to get back to … controlling the boards, too, which I thought we did a great job doing.”

The Belles out-rebounded the Thunder 50-32, in part due to junior forward Ariana Paul’s 14 rebounds.

Although the Belles lead stretched to nine in the first half, and ballooned to 12 six minutes into the second, Henley said it never seemed like the Thunder were completely out of the game. Down 38-26 with 14:36 remaining, the Thunder went on a 12-4 run to cut the Belles lead to four halfway through the second half.

That was the closest the Thunder would get, though, as the Belles, up 52-46 with 3:00 left, went 7-for-10 from the free throw line in the final three minutes to stymie the Thunder rally.

“Though we struggled with the press, I thought hitting those key free throws down the stretch were one of the ways we held our composure,” Henley said.

Thunder sophomore forward Alivia Recker led all scorers with 14 points, with 12 of those coming in the second half. Junior guard Kelsey Henselmeier added 11 for the Thunder.

Senior guard Shanlynn Bias led the Belles with 13 points and eight rebounds and sophomore forward Krista Knapke chipped in 10 points. Bias and Knapke were two of nine Belles to score.

“I like having a balanced scoring attack, though that’s not something we’ve stressed,” Henley said. “It’ll certainly make us a harder team to defend moving forward.”

The Belles next take to the floor Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Calvin in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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