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SMC Basketball: Squad enters MIAA play with confidence

Alex Barker | Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fresh off its first conference victory of the season against Trine, Saint Mary’s will try to stay undefeated in the MIAA when it hosts Calvin Saturday at the Angela Athletic Center.

Wednesday, the Belles knocked off Trine 80-72 in the opening game of MIAA conference play. Senior forward Erin Newsom scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace the Belles. It was her third double-double of the season.

As a team, Saint Mary’s could not have played much better. The team shot 32-for-50 from the floor against the Thunder. Their 58 percent shooting percentage was the highest percentage ever for the Belles under coach Jenn Henley.

The win also marked the first time since 2002 the Belles have won their MIAA opener.

Over Thanksgiving break, the team played against tough competition in preparation for conference play

“The Wheaton game was a great win for us,” senior forward Nicole Beier said. “It was frustrating to lose another close game, but I think that the team is moving in the right direction.”

The Belles knocked off Wheaton for the first time in 10 tries before dropping two games in the Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic. Saint Mary’s fell to eventual tournament champion Otterbein by three points in the first game and dropped another against No. 21 Chicago in the second.

“The games over break have prepared us well for our upcoming conference games,” Beier said.

Looking ahead to the MIAA competition that awaits the Belles this season, Beier and the team have two important goals heading forward.

“Our ultimate goal is to win conference this season and reach the finals of the postseason conference tournament,” Beier said.

Saint Mary’s has performed well in the paint this season, dominating the boards by an average margin of six rebounds per game. Junior forward Anna Kammrath leads the team this season with 10.8 rebounds per game, just in front of Newsom’s 9.2 boards per game.

The Belles will have their hands full this weekend with Calvin, who finished third in the conference last season, one spot ahead of Saint Mary’s. In two matchups last season, the Knights claimed victory both times.