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SMC Basketball: Belles fall in close contest

Observer Staff Report | Monday, December 9, 2013

Despite senior guard Shanlynn Bias’ career-high 20 points, Saint Mary’s fell to North Central 90-89 on Saturday in an up-tempo, back-and-forth contest.

Down one with nine seconds left, Bias pushed the ball up the floor and found a hole in the Cardinal defense. She pulled up from just inside the free-throw line, but drew iron. Junior forward Ariana Paul got the offensive rebound, but her tip-in attempt missed as the buzzer sounded.

Early in the game, it seemed the Belles (2-6, 0-1 MIAA) might run the Cardinals (4-2) out of the gym, jumping out to a 12-2 lead to start and holding the Cardinals’ third-ranked Division III offense to 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the opening half. The Cardinals clawed away at the Belles’ lead, and down 41-33, rattled off seven straight points in just over a minute to cut the lead to 41-40 with 1:25 remaining in the half.  The Belles and Cardinals would go into the break tied at 45.

The Belles started the second half much like the first, scoring the first seven points to open up a 52-45 lead. Again, the Cardinals would fight back, eventually going on a 9-0 run that gave them a 77-72 lead. The Belles responded with another run of their own, outscoring the Cardinals 16-4 over the next six minutes to go up 87-81 with 1:42 remaining.

After making a layup with 1:30 left, North Central scored twice off two Saint Mary’s turnovers to tie the game 87-87. On the next possession, Belles freshman guard Heather Pesigan hit a floater in the lane to put Saint Mary’s up by two with 21 seconds remaining.  North Central junior point guard Bobbi Johns was able to penetrate the Belles’ defense on the Cardinals’ final possession and found junior guard Maryssa Cladis for a spot-up 3-pointer that proved to be the game winner.

In addition to Bias’ career night, sophomore forward Krista Knapke added 16 points and 13 rebounds to notch her third double-double of the season. Fellow sophomore forward Eleni Shea had 13 points, while freshman guard Timoney Moyer scored 12 in the losing effort.

Junior forward Larynn Shumaker paced the Cardinals with 16 points, while Johns added nine points and seven assists.

The 89-point effort is already the third time in eight games the Belles have eclipsed 80 points, a mark they failed to reach last season.

Saint Mary’s returns to conference action on Saturday when they take on Trine at 3 p.m. in its MIAA home opener at the Angela Athletic Center.