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SMC Basketball

Saint Mary’s still searching for first conference win

| Friday, January 20, 2017

Saint Mary’s still awaits its first conference win of the season, after losing its opening four games of the new year to Kalamazoo, Alma, Hope and Olivet.

After failing to record a win in three nonconference games in late December, two in the Las Vegas Hoopla and an 84-44 defeat at Millikin, the Belles (1-15, 0-8 MIAA) returned to conference play against Kalamazoo (3-13, 2-6). Saint Mary’s struggled with shooting early on, going 6-for-25 from the field in the first half as the Hornets built a 30-19 halftime lead, with sophomore Erin Maloney’s nine points carrying much of the Belles’ offensive load. Despite improved shooting in the second half including making five of eight 3-point attempts, the Belles could not overcome the deficit and lost 70-54.

Saint Mary’s may have hoped for a repeat of past fortunes when it hosted Alma (4-12, 3-5). Each of the Belles’ three wins in their last 46 MIAA games have occurred in home games with the Scots, who hadn’t won at Saint Mary’s since 2012. However, the Scots reversed recent history of the fixture in emphatic fashion, coming out 84-41 victors. The Belles shot barely over 20 percent from the field and turned the ball over 28 times, despite 11 points and five rebounds from junior forward Gabby Diamond.

Conference-leading No. 7 Hope (16-1, 8-0) looked as strong as its ranking would suggest, comfortably putting aside the Belles 101-49, after holding the Belles to just 18 first-half points. 15 different players scored for the Flying Dutch, while freshman forward Megan Will scored 10 for the Belles on 5-of-9 shooting in just 16 minutes.

The best chance for the first MIAA win of the Belles’ season may have been against previously winless Olivet (1-15, 1-7 MIAA). The Belles trailed after one quarter but led at halftime behind an 18-9 second quarter. The game was tied with just five minutes remaining, but a 14-0 run to end the game from the Comets meant it was Olivet, not the Belles, who recorded their first conference win, 63-49.

The Belles return to action on Saturday with a home clash with Albion. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.

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