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SMC Basketball: Belles look to rebound against Flying Dutch

Bill Brink and Dan Cooper | Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Following a week of rest, Saint Mary’s tips off MIAA conference play tonight as it travels to defending champion Hope.

The Belles (1-3) have had a rough start to their season, playing their first four games in five consecutive days. Their last two losses were each by three points, one coming in overtime.

Belles’ head coach Jennifer Henley said the losses were in part a result of having so many games in so short a time.

“If we had legs, that would have been a totally different game,” Henley said of the Belles’ loss to Manchester on Nov. 21. “We play the schedule handed down to us. It’s tough for any team to pull off.”

Henley also believes that for the team to be successful, it must perform well in the paint.

“Our post play needs to step up,” she said. “They need to take pressure off the perimeter. Our team is dominated by [guard Allison] Kessler and [guard Bridget] Lipke. We have four six-footers that need to have more of an impact.”

Kessler and Lipke average 19.3 and 12 points per game respectively. They run the offense and are constantly on the court, averaging 39 and 38 minutes per game.

Saint Mary’s will face a tough opponent in Hope junior guard Jordan Boyles.

Boyles averages 16.5 points per game, while shooting 50 percent from the field including 55 percent from behind the arc. Henley acknowledges that stopping her will be a challenge.

“She’s a pretty legit player,” she said. “If I knew how to stop her I’d be in pretty good shape. But good players will get their points. We want to contain her and mix it up with some different defensive looks.”

The Flying Dutch are 2-0 and average 81.5 points per game, good for second in the conference and well above the Belles’ 60 points per game.

In order to compete with the Flying Dutch, Saint Mary’s will have to cut down on its turnovers. The Belles average 20.3 per game, giving them a minus 0.5 turnover margin with a 0.6 assists-to-turnovers ratio.

Shooting efficiency will play an important role in tonight’s game. Saint Mary’s has connected on 41 percent of all its field goals, but play from behind the arc has hampered it so far this season. The Belles are shooting only 26 percent from 3-point range.

Henley said the team will approach tonight’s game the same way it would any other.

“It doesn’t really affect them,” said Henley of the team’s first conference game. “A game’s a game, and it’s important. But they’re all important.”