Belles look to rebound from losing streak
Andrew Robinson | Thursday, January 16, 2014
Trying to bounce back after a lopsided 95-68 loss to Calvin on Wednesday, Saint Mary’s hopes to snap its three-game losing streak when it squares off against conference opponent Albion this Saturday.
After having a 2-1 conference record a week ago following a 70-67 win over Alma, the Belles (4-11, 2-4 MIAA) have dropped three straight MIAA contests to Hope, Kalamazoo and Calvin. The Brits (6-9, 2-4 MIAA) are also coming off a loss, having fallen 67-51 to Olivet on Wednesday. With both teams trying to turn things around, Belles coach Jenn Henley said she expects the game to be tightly contested.
“It should be a good matchup for us,” she said.
Henley thinks the Belles will have the advantage down low against Albion, who will have to stop a strong Saint Mary’s front court consisting of junior forward Ariana Paul and sophomore forwards Krista Knapke and Eleni Shea. Paul has been on a hot streak over the past three weeks, averaging over 16 points per game.
Henley has also been preparing her team for Albion’s versatile defensive schemes. “They do a good job of mixing up their defenses between man and zone,” Henley said, “so we will certainly need to be ready for that.”
Henley also repeatedly stressed that playing tighter on the defensive end is a must if the Belles hope to gain some momentum moving forward. “We need to work harder defensively to shut down the drives in the paint and secure the rebound,” she said. “We can’t give up second chance points.” In the game against Calvin, over half the points the Belles allowed came off of second chance points and turnovers.
The Brits will be led by senior guard/forward Brett deBear, who averages a team-high 18.1 points per game and has dominated from the free throw line, shooting 76 for 87 on the season. She has led the team in scoring in 12 of the Brits’ 15 games. In last season’s matchup against the Belles, DeBear scored 23 points and led the Brits to victory.
“[DeBear] is really carrying Albion on offense,” Henley said, “We will have to find a way to contain her.”
With 10 games remaining, all against conference opponents, the Belles still have plenty of time to turn things around. Henley remains confident in the Belles and their resilience.
“This team works hard and I am proud of how they continue to battle with teams,” she said.
“We are still a young team when you compare us to other teams in the league. We continue to learn and gain experience, which will pay off in the long run.”
Saint Mary’s and Albion will meet at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Angela Athletic Complex.
Contact Andrew Robinson at [email protected]