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SMC Basketball: Coming off loss, Belles ready to take on Alma

Brendan Bell | Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saint Mary’s will face a familiar foe Saturday as the second rotation of MIAA conference play begins against Alma. No. 4 Calvin defeated the Belles (7-10, 3-5 MIAA) 80-54 Wednesday night.

Despite the inability to take down the undefeated Knights, Saint Mary’s coach Jennifer Henley praised her team’s sound fundamental play throughout the contest.

“I think we played stretches of very good defense last night against Calvin,” Henley said. “I thought our team did a pretty good job on the boards rebounding as well.”

Now Saint Mary’s will attempt to earn a bounce-back victory against Alma, who it defeated earlier in the season.

In the first meeting, the Belles beat the Scots (4-13, 2-6) 72-50 as senior forward Patsy Mahoney led the way with 19 points. Saint Mary’s took a 30-22 lead at halftime and pulled away in the second half, going up by as many as 25 points. The Belles also out-rebounded the Scots 44-34 and converted 37 points off turnovers.

Still, Henley said the team is not overlooking a conference opponent.

“We have to be ready defensively for them and continue to attack on offense in order to win,” she said.

Along with Gooding, Alma freshman Grace Wheeler has been key for the Scots, averaging 9.3 points per game and leading the team in scoring. The Scots will also have an advantage playing at home, where they have earned all their wins this season and have compiled a 4-3 mark.

The Belles, on the other hand, are 3-7 away from home. To avoid continuing road struggles, Henley said her team would need to be more effective on offense. Over the course of the season, Saint Mary’s has shot 38.3 percent from the field, compared to its opponents’ mark of 43 percent.

“We need to execute better with the ball and create more second-shot opportunities,” Henley said.

Saint Mary’s will look to improve offensively and earn its fifth conference win Saturday at 7 p.m. at Alma.