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SMC Basketball: Hope bests Belles in clutch

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 28, 2008

Saint Mary’s hung tough with the No. 1 team in Division III for all 60 minutes of Saturday’s game.

Unfortunately, hanging tough did not end up being enough, as the Belles lost to No. 1 Hope (17-0, 9-0 MIAA) 82-73 at the Angela Athletic Center.

Though the Belles entered the game 0-21 all-time against the Flying Dutch, the first half looked promising for the home squad. Saint Mary’s gained a 10-4 lead early in the game, and after sophomore forward Anna Kammrath’s layup put them up 16-14 with 9:08 to go, the Belles rode their lead into the locker room at halftime.

Senior guard Alison Kessler, the reigning MIAA player of the week, scored 10 of her team-high 21 points before the break. Coming into Sunday’s game, Kessler said, nerves were not a problem for the Belles.

“We were very excited to play Hope and we knew that we could play with them,” she said. “At halftime, we had even more confidence because we were up.”

The second half began with a barrage of scoring from the Flying Dutch, who turned their three-point halftime deficit into a 49-40 lead in just under five minutes. Senior guard Jordan Boles, who scored 10 of her game-high 27 points in those five minutes, led Hope’s surge.

The lead fluctuated a bit before a Boles three-pointer gave Hope a 10-point cushion with 8:34 to go in the game. But just as quickly as they’d lost the lead to begin the half, the Belles came storming back, with two Kessler free throws cutting the deficit to three with 6:37 left.

Though the lead eventually reached 10 again, the Belles regrouped once more. Junior forward Erin Newsom’s jumper with 2:14 left in the game brought the score to 74-71. Unfortunately for the Belles, this was their last attempt at a comeback. Hope hit a few clutch free throws as the Belles could not get any of their last-ditch three-pointers to fall.

Despite the loss, which was their second in a row, the Belles got another solid performance from their leaders. Kessler backed up her 21-point outing with seven assists and seven rebounds. Junior guard Katie Rashid netted 13 points, Kammrath finished with 12, and Newsom contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.

Saint Mary’s will look to rebound Wednesday night when the Belles head to Olivet.