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SMC Basketball: Belles beat Olivet in MIAA tourney

Griffin Dassatti | Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A five-point lead wasn’t good enough for Saint Mary’s Tuesday.

The Belles went into the locker room with a 25-20 lead over Olivet in the first round of the MIAA tournament, and ended with a 71-62 win. The Comets held the Belles to 33.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half.

The Belles emerged from the locker room hungry for a win. But Belles coach Jenn Henley said the talk in the locker room didn’t go much beyond basic strategy.

“The biggest thing was that we wanted to get into the paint to score,” Henley said. “We wanted to execute our two man game and get to the foul line as much as we could because that’s what we’ve been doing all season.”

The Belles came out on fire in the second half, jumping out to a 16-2 run fueled by three straight three-pointers by junior guards Katie Rashid and Meghan Conaty and senior guard Alison Kessler.

The run put the game all but out of reach for the Comets, who didn’t get within single digits of Saint Mary’s until there were 55 seconds left in the game. The Belles succeeded in getting to the paint – the team shot 51.9 percent from the field in the second half and went 4-10 from 3-point range.

Kessler again led the Belles in scoring with 23 points to bring her season total to 520, breaking her own single-season scoring record of 497, set last year. Rashid and sophomore forward Anna Kammrath each tallied 10, and junior forward Erin Newsom scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Saint Mary’s will face undefeated Hope on Thursday, the No. 1 team in the Division III Coaches’ Poll. The Belles most recently lost to Hope 82-73 on Jan. 26. Despite the loss, Henley said the team is looking forward to the game.

“I thought we played them well at home, but that was so long ago,” she said. “They’re still the No. 1 one team in the country and they’re still undefeated, so we have our hands full. But, I like how we’re playing and I think it’s anyone’s game.”