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SMC Basketball: Thunder finish like lightning at MIAAs

Laura Coletti | Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Basketball is often a game of runs. Unfortunately for Saint Mary’s, Trine College’s final run came late in the game on Tuesday night. The No. 3 Belles (18-8, 11-5 MIAA) did not have time to answer and were upset by the No. 6 Thunder (8-17, 4-11 MIAA) 68-58 in the opening round of the MIAA tournament.

The Belles led 29-25, after the first period, though both teams had similar statistical halves. Each shot 40 percent from the field, and each only missed one free throw.

Despite spending time on the bench in the middle of the period because of early foul trouble, junior forward Kelley Murphy carried the team offensively during the first half, posting 11 points. Junior forward Jessica Centa added nine in the period.

The Thunder came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and had the game knotted at 29 within the first minute and a half. The two teams exchanged leads up until the 14:13 mark, when Trine sophomore forward Haley Killingbeck nailed a 3-pointer to put the Thunder up 35-33.

Trine maintained the lead, at times as large as five, until 5:16 when a Murphy layup put the Belles back in front.

A 3-pointer by Trine senior guard Liz Gehrig put the Thunder ahead by four, and put the Belles out of the game.

The Thunder reached the bonus with more than six minutes left in the contest, and solid free throw shooting sealed their victory down the stretch.

“I think our team was prepared,” Belles coach Jennifer Henley said. “I think defensively we didn’t execute like we needed to do. I don’t think we had very good shot selection throughout the game, and some key shots that we normally make weren’t falling for us. That kind of set the tone.”

Saint Mary’s saw significant contributions throughout the game from a pair of freshman. Guard Shanlynn Bias and forward Domini Paradiso logged 20 and 15 minutes for the game, respectively. Paradiso stepped in during the first half when Murphy was in foul trouble and chipped in two points and five rebounds. Bias finished with six points for the game.

“Those are two good kids who have shown a lot of growth this season,” Henley said. “I think Domini [Paradiso] is getting stronger every chance she gets out there, and [Bias] is doing a lot of good things for us defensively and learning our system.”

Murphy finished as the game’s leading scorer with 22 points and also added nine rebounds. With three seasons of her career complete, Murphy has a total of 1024 career points. She is the ninth player in the history of the College to reach the thousand-point plateau, and led Saint Mary’s to a team record 18 wins this season.

“When we have a chance to sit back and let this sink in, those are definitely some bright spots of the season,” Henley said.