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SMC Basketball: Belles open with Anderson

Meaghan Veselik | Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saint Mary’s tips off its basketball season with a home opener tonight as it takes on Anderson University at 7:30 p.m.

“I am expecting our team to control the tempo in Tuesday’s opening game,” Belles coach Jenn Henley said. “We want to establish very early our inside game on offense. Transition defense will be a big key for us with Anderson.”

The Belles finished 17-10 (13-3 MIAA) last season, and ranked third in the conference in the MIAA Coaches Pre-Season poll that was released last Thursday. Defending-league champion and No. 2 Hope College leads the conference as the top team, followed closely in the poll by Calvin.

Saint Mary’s is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent memory, finishing in second place after losing 77-47 to Hope in the MIAA Championship. Returning for the Belles are junior guard Liz Wade — the reigning MIAA Defensive Player of the Year — sophomore forward Kelley Murphy, sophomore guard Patsy Mahoney and senior forward Anna Kammrath.

Wade had 128 points last season and led the Belles in rebounds with 96. Murphy was second only to graduated senior Erin Newsom in points with 238 in her rookie season, including hitting 74-percent from the free-throw line. Mahoney averaged 9.8 points per game. Kammrath, the team’s lone senior, had 218 points last season and 47 rebounds.

Aside from Newsom, who averaged 14.3 points per game and was named to the 2008-2009 All-MIAA First Team, the Belles lost three other seniors to graduation: Katie Rashid, Megan Conaty and Nicole Beier.

“Anytime you lose four seniors in your program, you have a lot to replace,” Henley said. “Erin Newsom, Meghan Conaty, Nicole Beier and Katie Rashid provided a lot of depth for us last season. They each contributed in different ways that helped us be very successful.”

Conaty, a guard, had 42 points and was second in rebounds with 67. Beier, who returned from an injury and played in only 18 of Saint Mary’s’ games, managed 184 points and 18 rebounds in her final season. Rashid scored 134 points and was third for rebounds with 61.

“We haven’t been 100 percent healthy in the preseason,” Henley said. “Right now we are working on finding the right chemistry in our rotations as we prepare for three games this week.” 

Although they lost four seniors, the Belles did bring in four freshmen this fall: Kayla Wolter, Annie Doyle, Amanda Stukel and Katelyn Kosinski. Also returning for Saint Mary’s are Maggie Ronan, Katie Sullivan, Jessica Centa and Grace Sadowski.

The Belles open their season tonight at 7:30 p.m. as they the Ravens in a non-conference game.