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SMC Basketball: Senior-laden Belles team enjoys record-setting season

Alex West | Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The final chapter in Saint Mary’s basketball season came to an abrupt end at the MIAA Championship on Saturday. Although the story didn’t have the pristine ending they had hoped for, the Belles’ journey to the Championship is something they can be proud of.

“It means a lot to reach the MIAA championship game.” Belles coach Jennifer Henley said. “Every team in this conference strives to get there.”

With a 17-10 record overall, 13-3 in the conference, Saint Mary’s eclipsed the school’s previous record for wins in each category. The Belles also reached the championship game of the MIAA conference tournament for the first time in school history.

Saint Mary’s biggest win of the season came at home on Jan. 2 against top-ranked Hope College, the same team that ousted them in the championship game.

Several Belle players earned post-season honors, led by All-MIAA First Team selection senior forward Erin Newsom. Senior forward Nicole Beier earned Second Team honors while sophomore guard Liz Wade was named MIAA defensive Player of the Year.

Newsom finished her senior campaign second in scoring with an average of 14.3 points per game and third in rebounds pulling down an average of 8.6 boards a game.

Beier averaged 10.2 points a game and committed only 18 turnovers in a 27 game season.

Wade led the conference in steals with 86 total, averaging just over three per game. She also finished second in the conference in assists.

Coach Henley said she was impressed with the improvement she witnessed in her team throughout the season.

“One of the best parts of this season for me is to watch how this team has improved since October,” she said.

The Belles will lose four seniors from this year’s runner up team: Meghan Conaty, Katie Rashid, Newsom, and Beier.

“I am very proud of our four seniors,” Henley said. “They took ownership of this team early on and are a big reason for the success we had.”

The Belles will now look to build on their young talent for next year. But Henley isn’t quite sure who will be able to fill the big shoes that Newsom, Beier, Conaty, and Rashid will leave behind.

“It’s hard to say who will fill the roles that are seniors had this year,” she said. “Each season brings a new identity.”