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SMC Basketball: Belles face last-place Kalamazoo

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, February 15, 2008

Saint Mary’s will look to bounce back after a 78-70 loss to second-place Albion last weekend. The seventh-place Belles head back to the court Saturday to take on last-place Kalamazoo at home.

When Saint Mary’s (5-8 MIAA, 9-12) and Kalamazoo (1-12 MIAA, 4-17) last faced off in January, Alison Kessler scored a layup and two free throws in the last minute of the game to give the Belles the 72-69 win – bringing her game total to a school record 41 points.

“I think our game on Saturday against Kalamazoo will be a big challenge for us,” head coach Jenn Henley said.

The Hornets kept the game close the entire 40 minutes of their last meeting, leading at the half and up until the last minute of the game.

Since that game, the Belles have gone 2-5, defeating Tri-State and Adrian 74-71 and 61-51, respectively. However, the Belles have continued to post impressive numbers, offensively and defensively. In addition, Kessler set a new Saint Mary’s career three-point record in last week’s loss to Albion. The senior has made 133 shots from outside the arc in her career.

But there is always room for improvement – especially on the defensive end.

“Our focus continues to be on the defensive side of the ball,” Henley said. “We have to find a way to play forty minutes of team defense in order to be successful down the stretch.”

The Belles have shown improvements on defense as of late, but were outrebounded 35-28 against Albion.

Despite defensive struggles, the Belles’ offense has been a consistent strong point this season. The team has averaged 67.2 points per game under the guidance of leading scorers Kessler and Erin Newsom, averaging 19.8 and 11 points per game, respectively. Kessler leads with 415 points this season, 61 from the school’s record and 34 points from the record for most career points. Newsom leads Saint Mary’s in rebounds with a total of 179 this season.

Going into their last three regular season games, Henley’s expectations for her team hasn’t changed.

“We are at a point in the season when we should be playing our best basketball,” Henley said. “We don’t have many opportunities left in the regular season. The postseason is just around the corner and we look forward to it.”

Saint Mary’s takes on Kalamazoo on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Angela Athletic Center.


uThis week is Women’s Basketball Coaches Association “Think Pink” week to raise breast cancer awareness and honor its survivors. The Saint Mary’s athletic department encourages all of its fans to wear pink this Saturday in support.