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SMC Basketball: Team improves despite 6-7 record

Meaghan Veselik | Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Going 3-3 over break wasn’t what Saint Mary’s hoped for, but it continued to improve as conference play began.

The Belles started their break with a loss to undefeated Hope, the top-ranked team in the MIAA. Saint Mary’s continued with two wins against North Park and Kenyon and a loss to Otterbein to close out 2007.

“Our team has seen some very good competition over the holiday break, both in and out of conference play,” Belles head coach Jennifer Henley said.

The start of the new year gave the Belles a fresh start against their conference opponents when they took on Alma.

The Scots took the lead early in the game, but freshman Liz Wade tied the game at 18 with seven minutes to go in the first half. A layup by Mary Lynn Carlson and four free throws by Erin Newsom in the last two minutes of the first half gave the Belles a boost as they headed into the second half, leading 33-27.

The Scots’ defense wasn’t able to stop the Belles from scoring 26 points in the second half. Alma started a comeback in the last six minutes of the game, scoring 20 points in that time. Alison Kessler’s four free throws in the last 30 seconds and a missed 3-pointer by Alma at the buzzer gave Saint Mary’s its 59-56 win.

On Jan. 9, conference play continued for the Belles when they traveled to Albion, the second-place team in the MIAA. Saint Mary’s had trouble scoring in the opening period and trailed 36-22 at the half. The struggle continued in the second half for the Belles, with Albion consistently raising its lead. The Belles’ missed shots and Albion’s tough defense handed Saint Mary’s an 85-56 loss.

Saint Mary’s has held its own against conference opponents this season, and is presently No. 6 in the MIAA. The team will play at Kalamazoo tonight at 7:30. The Hornets are in eighth place, two behind the Belles.

“Kalamazoo is a good team. They are strong on the inside as well as on the boards,” Henley said. “It will be a good challenge for us as we continue to play on the road. At this point in the season we know what we are capable of doing – it’s just a matter of finding some consistency from this point on.”