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SMC Basketball

Belles fall in conference opener

| Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Saint Mary’s fell 61-48 to Olivet in its conference opener on Monday night at Angela Athletic Facility.

Sophomore forward Gabby Diamond said the Belles (0-6, 0-1 MIAA) came out with a high energy as they tried to put the team’s shaky start to the season behind them.

“It has definitely been a struggle these last few games, and it would be understandable if our confidence was shaken from those,” Diamond said. “We had learned from those past games. Our team did a great job with our energy in starting the game and making our presence known in that gym.”

Senior guard Maddie Kohler’s long 3-pointer gave Saint Mary’s a slight edge, 14-12, after the first quarter. The team followed with another 10 unanswered points after the break, but the Comets (3-3, 1-0) came back with a 17-4 run to close the half with a 29-28 lead.

There were four lead changes as the teams went back and forth in the third quarter. The Belles pulled ahead, 36-33, with a jump shot by senior guard Sarah Macius. Olivet soon took control on the boards, however, and made Saint Mary’s pay with an 11-0 run. The Belles surrendered 26 points off turnovers, a deficit Diamond said was too challenging to overcome.

“It’s hard for any team to come back from such a point difference,” Diamond said. “[The turnover margin] coupled with a drastic change in our shooting percentage compared to the first half made things even more difficult. I think that both of those took hard hits on our confidence throughout the second half, and it was very challenging to get that back as the clock wound down.”

The Belles hit only six of their 26 field goal attempts after halftime and were unable to take the lead for the rest of the game. Despite the team’s second half struggles, senior Krista Knapke posted her third straight double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Macius also chipped in 13 points. Diamond stressed the importance of the senior leaders’ performances.

“[Knapke] is such a threat inside the paint,” Diamond said. “Even though she struggled with her free throws, her resilience each time she stepped up to the line and her strength under the boards was something that really rallied the team tonight. Similarly, [Macius] showed a determination that I really admired on the floor. Her short shots were hot, and her speed on defense and quick hands made it hard for any defender to get by her.”

Diamond said the team will be working on their defensive attack as it prepares for two more away games this week.

“There need to be a lot of adjustments in our defensive game looking forward,” Diamond said. “We need to recognize the quickness that we have as a team and utilize this before getting into foul trouble early, which is what we have seen in the last few games. I think that most importantly though, we need to stop trying to match the tempo and overall game of the teams we play and play our own game that we have practiced so hard to perfect.

“I am excited for our game against Benedictine because I know that our team and our staff are all aware of the changes we need to make to find success on that court on Wednesday.”

Saint Mary’s will travel to play Benedictine on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Dan and Ada Rice Center.

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