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Belles fall to Olivet despite early lead

Kevin Brennan | Monday, December 6, 2004

Saint Mary’s watched another lead slip away in the second half on Saturday. The Belles led for much of the game, but were badly outplayed down the stretch, falling 79-69 to Olivet.

Saint Mary’s started the game off hot, maintaining a double-digit lead for most of the opening period thanks to excellent shooting. In the first half, the team shot 59 percent from the floor and connected on 60 percent of its 3-point attempts.

With 2:11 left before halftime, freshman forward Bernadette Broderick hit a jumper to give the Belles a 39-28 lead. The Comets surged at the end of the half, though, going on an 8-2 run. Saint Mary’s entered halftime leading 41-36.

Olivet continued its hot play at the beginning of the second half. Comet guards Kari Searles and Emily Fix hit consecutive three pointers to put Olivet up 42-41 for its first lead of the game.

The Belles and Comets stayed close and traded leads for most of the second period. Sophomore point guard Bridget Lipke connected on a jumper with 4:37 left in the game to give Saint Mary’s a 65-64 advantage.

This would prove to be the Belles’ last lead of the game, though. The Comets immediately responded with a basket from freshman guard Amy Brackenwagen. The score sparked a 15-4 Olivet run that ended the game.

“I think that in the second half, instead of taking it to them and really being aggressive, we became a little more tentative,” senior guard Katie Boyce said. “We were settling for outside shots instead of taking it right at them.”

Saint Mary’s struggled to find an answer for Olivet guards Kari Searles and Emily Fix all game. Searles, the Comets’ leading scorer, scored 17 points, and Fix added 20 of her own. Amy Brackenwagen had 13 points, six rebounds and six assists for Olivet in her first career start.

Senior forward Emily Creachbaum led the Belles in the losing effort, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds. Center Maureen Bush added 12 points and five rebounds.

Despite the disappointing defeat, Saint Mary’s can take some positives from the performance. The Belles displayed great depth, with ten different players logging minutes. Freshmen Allison Kessler and Bernadette Broderick played very well off the bench, scoring eight and nine points, respectively.

The Belles must be concerned with their inability to close out games, however. For the second straight contest, Saint Mary’s gave away a big early lead.

“It is definitely a motivating factor that we will use in the future,” Boyce said. “That is something that we will work on – the mentality that you have to stay with it the entire game.”

Saint Mary’s will look to turn things around this week with home games against Anderson and Tri-State.

“The next three days of practice are going to be really important,” Boyce said. “We know that we need to win both games this week before Christmas break to get us back on the right track.”