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Kessler leads Belles to upset win

Joe Meixell | Thursday, January 19, 2006

Allison Kessler went from being Saint Mary’s backup point guard to its hero in the span of one half.

With 22 seconds left in the game, Kessler made two foul shots to cement the 55-51 upset of the Albion Britons. Albion guard Kellyn Glynn made a 3-pointer nine seconds earlier to bring the Britons to within two points, but Kessler’s free throws put the game out of reach.

Kessler stepped up for Saint Mary’s, replacing starting point guard Bridget Lipke, who left the game with 17:30 left in the second half with a leg injury. Kessler led all scorers with 19 points, and grabbed three rebounds.

Lipke, despite having only 2 points and 2 rebounds in the first half, leads the team at the point and directs the offense.

“Allison has the heart of a champion,” Belles head coach Steve Bender said. “We lost Bridget [Lipke] and were still able to win somehow.”

Saint Mary’s defensive intensity was visible for the entire game. Playing predominantly man-to-man, the Belles forced bad shots and out-rebound the Britons 18-10 in the first half.

Moreover, the Belles were able to stay focused and disciplined throughout the game, allowing the Britons only four trips to the foul line and forcing turnovers – including multiple traveling penalties on Albion.

“The most important part of our win today was our intensity, our man-to-man intensity,” Bender said. “We really stepped in our man-to-man defense today.”

The Saint Mary’s offense also showed great discipline, working the shot clock down to under 10 seconds in many of their possessions, while never receiving a shot clock violation.

Saint Mary’s led throughout the entire game despite going on any significant runs. Instead, they were consistent on offense and were able to buckle down and make key defensive stops when needed. The Belles’ ability to control the game on both sides of the ball helped them lead throughout the game.

Another key factor in the game was the ability of both teams to shoot from three-point range. Britons guard Megan Seely led the second half, hitting five 3-pointers. But senior guard Bridget Boyce answered almost every time adding 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and helped the Belles stay in front.

With the upset of now Albion (12-5, 4-4), the Belles are now 7-10 overall and 5-3 in the MIAA. More importantly, this was the first home win for Saint Mary’s since Dec. 7 and was the sort of victory that Coach Bender will be able to use to motivate his team for the rest of the season.

“This was a really big win, and the biggest win we’ve had at home in a very long time,” said Bender.