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Sports

Belles fall in final minute at home against Olivet in MIAA play

| Monday, January 25, 2016

Saint Mary’s lost in heartbreaking fashion Saturday at home to Olivet, 52-49.

The Belles (1-17, 1-8 MIAA) led the Comets the entire game until the 3:35 mark in the fourth quarter at Angela Athletic Facility. They were unable to reclaim the lead before the buzzer sounded.

The Belles opened Saturday afternoon on a hot streak, scoring the first eight points of the contest. After conceding only a single basket to the Comets (10-8, 6-3), Saint Mary’s continued its offensive dominance in the first, pushing its lead to 15-2. Driving the first quarter scoring charge was senior captain and forward Krista Knapke. She tallied seven points and three rebounds in the quarter.

The Belles scored on 61.5 percent of their attempts in the first, while at the same time holding Olivet to 16.7 percent. This being the second of two meetings between these teams this year, Belles head coach Jennifer Henley said her team entered game with a defensive game plan that served as the foundation for their first quarter success.

“We’ve been working really hard collapsing down on help side when they are attacking off the drive, because they get a lot of their points off the drive,” Henley said. “From that point recovering back out on the help side when they do their kick out. I felt our kids did a good job at that this game.”

Belles sophomore forward Gabby Diamond surveys the defense during Saint Mary’s 52-49 loss to Olivet on Saturday at Angela Athletic Facility. Diamond scored four points and pulled down two rebounds.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Belles sophomore forward Gabby Diamond surveys the defense during Saint Mary’s 52-49 loss to Olivet on Saturday at Angela Athletic Facility. Diamond scored four points and pulled down two rebounds.

To close the first, Belles junior guard Aspen Davis converted a buzzer-beating three-pointer, increasing the Belles’ lead to 12 points. In the second quarter, Saint Mary’s offense cooled off, but its defense never let up, preventing easy looks for Olivet, who shot 24 percent in the half. The Belles’ offense was spread around in the second, with their four field goals coming from four different players. Saint Mary’s went into halftime with a 26-17 lead.

Olivet darted out of the break with a reinvigorated offense, scoring a jumper and two layups to trim the lead to three with seven minutes left in the third period. A three-pointer from the top of the key by Belles senior captain and guard Maddie Kohler halted Olivet’s run and pushed the lead back to six. The Comets’ shots were falling, but the Belles answered every basket thrown at them.

Saint Mary’s kicked off the final quarter with a, 39-33, lead. Olivet started strong, quickly cutting the lead to three after two minutes. Knapke responded for the Belles with a layup, halting the Comets’ attempt to control of the game.

But Saint Mary’s was unable to hold them off, as Olivet’s constant defensive pressure led to four back-to-back turnovers halfway through the fourth.

“We got to a point where we started trading baskets for a minute there and then we had a couple consecutive turnovers down the stretch which hurt us,” Henley said. “At the same I felt like they did everything I asked.”

Belles senior forward Eleni Shea takes a shot during Saint Mary’s 52-49 loss to Olivet on Saturday at Angela Athletic Facility.  Shea, one of the team’s captains this season, scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists during the game.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Belles senior forward Eleni Shea takes a shot during Saint Mary’s 52-49 loss to Olivet on Saturday at Angela Athletic Facility. Shea, one of the team’s captains this season, scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists during the game.

A total of eight turnovers in the fourth quarter was too much for the Belles to overcome, as they saw their game-long lead slip away, 52-49. The game came down to the wire, with Saint Mary’s having a chance to win with 10 seconds left and possession, down a single point. A stolen inbounds pass took this chance from the Belles.

Knapke led the Belles with 11 points on 5-9 shooting along with six rebounds. Junior forward Kelsey Ronan contributed 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while senior captain and forward Eleni Shea added eight points and seven rebounds.

The Belles are back in action for a rematch against Calvin on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Angela Athletic Facility.

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About R.J. Stempak

R.J. Stempak is a sophomore computer science major who enjoys basketball.

Contact R.J.