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Belles look to finish season on strong note

Steve Coyer | Friday, February 13, 2004

The Belles entered the 2003-04 season with high expectations, and, despite a 6-16 overall record, the team has still accomplished many of its goals. Saint Mary’s faced its share of disappointments this year, but in the process the Belles have matured to become a closer knit group. Since the Belles will lose only one senior, the outlook for next year seems encouraging.However, the Belles’ focus has always been on winning games this present season. In this struggle, they have come together to form a unified team.”This team has really gotten close throughout the season,” head coach Suzanne Bellina said. “We started out with a pretty young team with just one senior, but the players have matured a lot as the season has progressed.”The Belles have had to overcome difficulties all season, including a demoralizing seven-game losing streak. In addition, the Belles have faced tough competition in their conference, the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.”The top of the conference seems to be more even than in the past,” Bellina said. “I think the league, as a whole, has raised their level of play.”Junior forward Emily Creachbaum, who emerged last year as a leader for the Belles, has led the teams in points and rebounds so far this season.A big positive this year has been the energy and depth of the bench. In a victory last Monday against Olivet College, the Belles bench combined to score 32 points.”We have really stressed going all out when players are in the game because we have depth,” Bellina said. “We also want players coming off the bench and providing a spark either with a hustle play or great defense.”Key contributors off the bench have been freshman Bridget Lipke and sophomores Bridget Boyce and Anne Hogan. Although the bench has taken pressure off the starters this year, the Belles have still had problems maintaining their stamina.The Belles lost 67-51 on Wednesday after giving up a halftime lead in a collapse that Bellina thinks was caused by fatigue.”The effort was there in the second half,” Bellina said. “I think we just ran out of gas.”This Saturday the Belles will play Alma College on the road. The last time the two teams met, Alma held off a second half comeback to defeat the Belles 70-67.Alma forward Karen Hall dominated that game and her team shot 60 percent from three point range. Bellina wants to prevent a repeat of this performance.”We have to be ready to defend their post and Karen Hall as well as their outside shooting,” Bellina said.With only three regular season games left, the Belles want to finish the year on a positive note.”We are looking at each game one at a time with the thought that all the games are winnable,” Bellina said. “We have a group that is going to continue to battle and work hard for the remainder of the season.”