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SMC Basketball: Belles face Calvin in semis

Michael Blasco | Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tonight, the Belles could make history.

A victory this evening against No. 3 seed Calvin in the second round of the MIAA Tournament will give No. 2 Saint Mary’s (16-9, 13-3 MIAA) a team-record 17th victory and vault the Belles into the finals.

While an opportunity to play for Saint Mary’s first MIAA title weighs heavily on each player, head coach Jennifer Henley is certainly not overlooking Calvin.

“We continue to take one game at a time,” Henley said. “At this point, that is all we have.”

In Tuesday’s opening round play, the Belles disposed of No. 7 Adrian (14-11, 7-9 MIAA) 74-60 in a snoozer at the Angela Athletic Facility. After building a 12-point lead only five minutes into the first half, Saint Mary’s superior shooting (41 percent from field goal range) and defense never allowed the Bulldogs to sniff the lead. Freshman forward Kelley Murphy led all players with 17 points, while senior forward Erin Newsom picked up her seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 boards for the Belles.

“I think [Adrian] was a huge win for us,” Henley said. “It is hard to see a team three times in a season. We did a great job of scoring in transition and out rebounding them.”

Saint Mary’s will also face the Knights (16-9, 9-7 MIAA) for the third team this season, having handed Calvin close losses in December and January. The Knights dispatched No. 6 Alma with a 69-41 blowout victory in the first round to advance to the semifinals.

Tuesday night’s victory featured the return of senior forward Marcia Harris, who scored 10 points in only 14 minutes in her first action since suffering an injury earlier this season. Harris is noted for her dominant post play on both sides of the court.

“Calvin is a very good team,” Henley said. “They are playing very well right now with the return of [Harris]. We need to focus on keeping their points out of the paint. They also play aggressive and solid defense. We need to take care of the ball and continue to attack them.”

The game begins tonight at 7:30 at the Belles’ Angela Athletic Facility in Notre Dame, In. In the other semifinal game, No. 5 Albion will take on No. 1 Alma to compete for a spot at Saturday’s MIAA tournament finals.