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Belles lose in first two contests

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 20, 2006

It was a rough start for the Belles.

Saint Mary’s kicked off its 2006-07 season with a 68-48 loss to No. 5 Wheaton Friday and then lost in overtime Saturday to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Lee Pfund Classic.

Thunder 68, Belles 48

Saint Mary’s fell behind early against Wheaton, and the Thunder were content trading baskets with the Belles after staking a 20-point lead at the half.

Facing a stout Wheaton defense, Saint Mary’s was just 5-of-22 from the floor in the first half, and the troubles began early.

Sophomore center Nicole Beier made a layup 21 seconds into the contest to give the Belles a quick 2-0 lead. That would be their only lead of the game and only field goal in the first 14:20 of the contest.

The Thunder had four players score 10 points or more, and Saint Mary’s committed too many turnovers to hang with the nationally ranked team. Wheaton lead 32-3 before Saint Mary’s sunk its second shot from the floor.

The Belles started hitting their shots from then on, bu only a 14-5 run to end the first half kept Saint Mary’s within 20 points of Wheaton.

But the Belles didn’t quit. After falling behind by 24 halfway through the second period, junior guard Alison Kessler and sophomore forward Erin Newsom led Saint Mary’s back, cutting the Thunder lead to 59-48 with 2:48 remaining. But it was too little, too late. Wheaton ended the game on a 9-0 run for its final 68-48 advantage.

Kessler finished with 17 points, converting 4-of-17 field goal attempts (3-of-5 3-pointers) and 6-of-8 from the line for the career 85 percent charity stripe shooter. Newsom added 11 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.

Thunder All-American candidate center Jill Trenz lead Wheaton with 14 points,10 rebounds and five blocks. She was 6-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

Warhawks 70, Belles 67 (OT)

Kessler led all scorers with 22 points and nailed a jumper as time expired to send the consolation game into overtime, but neither Kessler not Belles senior Bridget Lipke could hit a 3-pointer in the final five seconds as Wisconsin-Whitewater pulled out a back-and-forth game that saw 13 ties.

Neither the Belles nor the Warhawks could take a commanding lead in the contest, and both teams caught fire in the second half. Wisconsin-Whitewater made 52 percent of its shots in the second period, and Saint Mary’s shot 52.6 percent for the half.

Warhawks junior center Lindsey Buechner scored 13 points and added 7 rebounds in just 21 minutes off the bench to lead Wisconsin-Whitewater. Before fouling out in the extra session, Buechner hit a jumper to put the Warhawks up 60-58 with five seconds left in regulation.

Kessler and Lipke were the stars of the game for Saint Mary’s, making seven and six shots, respectively, of their 18 attempts each. The Belles got the ball back with 14 seconds remaining in overtime, but couldn’t hit the final shot.

Lipke played 43 of the total 45 minutes and scored 15 for Saint Mary’s.

The Observer could not contact Belles coach Jennifer Henly for comment Sunday.

Saint Mary’s will take on Anderson at 7 p.m. Monday at the Angela Athletic Complex.