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SMC BASKETBALL: Belles look for first win against Calvin

Ken Fowler | Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Belles don’t need to look at the record books to know their history with Calvin College.

For six of Saint Mary’s nine players, tonight’s first-round matchup with the Knights is an opportunity to get revenge for a game that is still fresh in their minds.

A year ago, the Belles struggled to a last-place finish in the MIAA and faced Calvin in Grand Rapids, Mich. to start the league tournament. The Knights ran up and down the court on Saint Mary’s, crushing the Belles, 82-48.

For seniors Katie Boyce, Maureen Bush, Emily Creachbaum and Deirdre Mangan, tonight’s game marks the last time they will have the chance to redeem themselves against Calvin, which has beaten Saint Mary’s graduating class all nine times the two have played.

Bush said that the Belles are “always pretty motivated when we play Calvin,” but that this game means more because of last year’s contest.

“The seniors have remembered,” she said.

Last year, the Belles entered the MIAA tournament with a 2-12 league record. This year, the team tripled its conference wins, going 6-10, and kept almost every game close.

Belles head coach Suzanne Bellina is confident in the team’s ability to play with the Knights.

“We’re a much better team all around [than we were last year],” she said.

Bellina also noted that the Saint Mary’s will be stronger defensively with Boyce, the 2003-2004 MIAA defensive player-of-the-year, starting for the Belles against Calvin.

Boyce missed the team’s most recent contest against Calvin with an injury, and was also unable to play against the Knights in last year’s tournament game.

The entire Belles defense will have to play well against Calvin’s efficient offense for Saint Mary’s to have a chance on the road against the MIAA’s No. 3 seed.

The Knights’ Lisa Winkle is second in the MIAA in scoring, averaging 15.9 points a game, and leads the league in rebounds, with nearly eight per contest. Bellina stressed that the Belles will have to stay aggressive on the defensive boards to prevent Winkle from getting second chances.

Calvin’s Kristen McDonald poses a second offensive threat, as she ended the regular season averaging 12.8 points per game, good for sixth in the MIAA.

To counter Calvin’s top scorers, Bellina said the Belles would switch in and out of “two or three looks” on defense.

As for Bush, she is confident that a solid defensive performance against Calvin’s post players can get Saint Mary’s into the second round with what would be a major upset over Calvin.

“They have some of the best posts in the league, but I really think our team has some of the best players in the league,” she said. “With a huge defense effort, we should be able to come out with a victory.”

For the Belles, it would be an especially satisfying victory.

The game can be heard live on Calvin’s on-line radio station, at calvin.edu/sports, starting at 7:30.