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SMC Basketball

Belles fall to Kalamazoo despite comeback run

| Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Despite a frenetic second-half rally, Saint Mary’s ultimately fell short Saturday in a 70-67 loss to Kalamazoo, dropping the Belles (4-10, 2-3 MIAA) to 2-7 in their past nine games.

“We just ran out of time,” Belles coach Jenn Henley said. “We played a good game overall, especially toward the end of the second half when we made our run, but just didn’t have the time.”

It was a back-and-forth game for much of the opening half, with Saint Mary’s holding a narrow lead until a 6-0 Hornets run put Kalamazoo (8-5, 4-1) up 33-31 — its first lead of the game — with just more than two minutes to go in the half. Kalamazoo would hold a 35-34 advantage going into the break.

Belles senior guard Shanlynn Bias connected on five of her nine first-half shots and entered halftime leading all scorers with 10 points.

The second half picked back up where the first half ended, with the teams seemingly trading buckets for the first six minutes of the half. After a Bias jumper tied the game for the seventh time with 13:51 to go, though, the game got away from the Belles as the Hornets embarked on a 12-2 run during which the Belles went cold, going 1-for-11 from the field.

Still, the Belles clawed back into the game, thanks to a 14-5 run of their own. A layup from junior forward Ariana Paul capped the run to bring Saint Mary’s within one, 60-59, with 3:13 remaining, but that was the closest the Belles would get.

Kalamazoo extended its lead to 67-61 before a floater in the paint from Belles sophomore forward Krista Knapke cut the lead to four with 1:26 to go. Two free throws from the Hornets extended the lead back to six, but four Belles free throws made it a one-possession game with 26 seconds left.

After the Yellow Jackets missed one of two free throws, Paul had an opportunity to tie the game with a corner three, but her attempt with 10 seconds to go was off target.

Paul led the Belles with 16 points, while Bias finished with 14 points. Sophomore forward Eleni Shea was the only other Belle in double figures, finishing with 11 points.

The Belles committed 13 turnovers, were outrebounded 47-35 and allowed the Hornets to shoot 46 percent from the field, including 57 percent in the second half — all areas Henley said the Belles have to improve upon moving into their next contest, a home matchup against Calvin on Wednesday.

“We missed some key rebounds down the stretch, and need to do a much better job of boxing out,” Henley said. “We also gave up too many points off the drive, allowing them to beat us off the dribble and get in the paint for easy looks. We need to play better one-on-one defense. That, combined with limiting our mistakes on the offensive end.”

The Knights (8-5, 3-1) are coming off a conference win over Alma and bring a high-powered offense that has topped 80 points five times already this season.

“Calvin will be a very good test for us,” Henley said. “They have some very good shooters and good team speed in the transition game. We’ll be alright as long as we contain their guards and pick them up early to slow down that transition game.”

The Belles take on the Knights on Wednesday at 7:30 at the Angela Athletic Facility.

Contact A.J. Godeaux at [email protected]

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