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SMC Basketball

Belles suffer first conference loss of season

| Monday, December 8, 2014

Trine snapped the Belles’ three-game winning streak by beating Saint Mary’s, 97-66, on Saturday.

The Belles (3-4, 1-1 MIAA) took a 15-9 lead only seven minutes into the game, but the Thunder (5-1, 2-0 MIAA) soon closed the gap.

Belles sophomore guard Timoney Moyer takes a shot during a 95-68 loss to Calvin on Jan. 15 at Angela Athletic Facility.Caroline Genco | The Observer

Belles sophomore guard Timoney Moyer takes a shot during a 95-68 loss to Calvin on Jan. 15 at Angela Athletic Facility.

The game remained close for much of the first half, with the lead changing three more times and the teams level with under six minutes remaining in the half. However, Trine pulled away late, establishing a nine-point lead before two free throws in the last minute from junior forward Krista Knapke left the Belles behind, 42-35, entering the break.

Belles coach Jennifer Henley said she was impressed by her team’s ability to match the Trine offense early in the game.

“In the first half, we kept trading baskets with Trine,” Henley said. “We kept the game close.”

The Thunder pulled away in the second half, however, scoring nine unanswered points within three minutes of the start of the period.

The Belles managed to close the gap slightly, bringing the game within 11 points, but the Thunder continued to score, and Saint Mary’s didn’t keep up the offensive pace. The Thunder outscored Saint Mary’s 38-18 in just over 10 minutes and eventually ended the game as 31-point victors.

Henley said her team was unable to cope with Trine’s second-half adjustments, letting the Thunder score freely.

“In the second half, Trine packed the paint and took away our ability to score inside,” Henley said. “We continued to struggle on defense and allowed them to attack the paint at the other end very easily.”

Henley added that, although she thought her team could have performed better in the second half, Trine played well and has a lot of talent.

“We knew Trine was playing well,” said Henley. “They are a completely different team last year with a lot of new faces, including several transfers and a new coach.

“They work hard and don’t turn the ball over very much. I think they will surprise a lot of teams this season.”

Belles sophomore guard Heather Pesigan brings the ball up the court during a 95-68 loss to Calvin on Jan. 15.Caroline Genco | The Observer

Belles sophomore guard Heather Pesigan brings the ball up the court during a 95-68 loss to Calvin on Jan. 15.

Senior forward Ariana Paul led the Belles in points with 18, as well as in rebounds, with six. Junior forward Elena Shea added 14 points and 2 blocks.

Despite the loss, the Belles will have many chances to succeed with some minor improvements, Henley said.

“My team has a lot of potential — we just have to get everyone on the same page defensively and not be driven so much emotionally by our offense,” said Henley. “It’s still pretty early in our season. We have such a great opportunity to compete this weekend as we travel to Hope College. We have to keep our focus as we prepare for finals too.”

Saint Mary’s will play at the Hope Classic this weekend, starting with a matchup against Hope at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel