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SMC BASKETBALL: Belles face Knights in road test

Ken Fowler | Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Coming off a 73-59 loss to Albion one week ago, the Belles (9-10, 4-6 MIAA) look to rebound and return to .500 tonight against Calvin College (14-4, 8-3) in Grand Rapids, Mich.Beating the Knights will be a tall order for Saint Mary’s, as Calvin averages a plus-10 scoring margin.But the Belles may be facing the Knights at the perfect time. Calvin has stumbled recently, losing two of its last three games to conference opponents.On Saturday, the Knights fell to Tri-State, 99-89. Although Saint Mary’s has lost its last six contests against Calvin, the Knights’ loss to Tri-State is giving the Belles hope.”I think you look at this season, and you don’t have to look at past seasons,” Belles head coach Suzanne Bellina said. “Tri-State beat them the other night, and we beat Tri-State last week. That’s really giving [us] some confidence.”The Belles know they cannot rely solely on a poor performance by Calvin to be successful, though. Saint Mary’s must shut down 6-foot sophomore Lisa Winkle to keep Calvin’s scoring low.Winkle is a double-threat for the Knights. She enters the game leading the league in field-goal percentage at 63 percent and is second in the MIAA in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game. Winkle leads the conference in rebounds, as well.The Belles will also have to keep a close eye on Knight guard Kristen McDonald, who is third in the MIAA in scoring.Bellina believes that the best way to counter the double-threat the Knights pose is to “stay fresh” for running up and down the court with Calvin.”We’ll stay with our normal [defensive scheme],” Bellina said. “We’ve got Creachbaum and Bush [to defend the paint].”She also indicated that the Belles would continue to use a three-guard formation for perimeter defense.The Belles, though, will continue to be without guard Katie Boyce, who averaged 28 minutes per game before an injury three weeks ago sidelined her. She is expected to resume practicing this week.Tonight’s game comes in the middle of a tough three-game stretch that pairs the Belles up against the conference’s top three teams all in eleven days – against Albion, Calvin and Hope.Bellina said that getting to .500 in the midst of this competition is a major team goal.”We have a tough stretch [now], but we finish [the regular season] with the lower half of the conference,” she said.Saint Mary’s has only six games remaining, including tonight, and Bellina believes the fifth-placed Belles must win at least three games to move into the fourth-seed come the league post-season tournament.