Belles fall to Kalamazoo in roller-coaster game
Andrew Robinson | Monday, February 10, 2014
After holding on to a narrow lead for most of the first half, Saint Mary’s traded blows with Kalamazoo in the second half and eventually lost the hard-fought contest, 71-66, on Saturday at the Angela Athletic Facility.The Belles (6-15, 4-8 MIAA) got off to a fast start, with sophomore forward Krista Knapke making layups on each of the first two possessions. After Saint Mary’s went up 8-3, however, the Hornets (12-8, 8-4) battled back with a 16-5 run to take a six-point lead.
Again the tide shifted when Saint Mary’s forced four consecutive turnovers, crucial defensive stops which Belles coach Jenn Henley has stressed throughout the year.
“We played some very good defense in the first half,” said Henley.
Six points from senior guard Shanlynn Bias off those turnovers and a 3-pointer by freshman guard Kristen Kleist put the Belles back in the lead midway through the first half.
With offensive contributions from the entire lineup, led by junior forward Ariana Paul’s 12 first-half points, the Belles headed into halftime with a 42-39 advantage.
Early in the second half, shots stopped falling for the Belles while the Hornets began to put in easy buckets, going on a 17-4 tear led by senior guard/forward Nicole Antoine. Kalamazoo took an eight-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“We gave up too many one-on-one layups in the second half,” Henley said. “We had our chances to score, [but] we had too many turnovers.”
However, the Belles were not finished, making repeated defensive stops and taking several trips to the free throw line to regain a 61-60 lead with 3:17 left. Bias, who scored 12 second-half points and a team-high 18 in the game, led the charge.
The Hornets found their way back, scoring a couple baskets and getting to the foul line. Paul, who contributed 16 points and six rebounds, fouled out near the end of the game.
“Any time a starter fouls out, it impacts the game,” Henley said. “Losing Paul with 1:40 to go wasn’t ideal.”
After that, a layup by Hornets junior guard Emily Lindsay and a free throw by senior guard India Hoskins put Kalamazoo up by four with 17 seconds left.
Sophomore guard Maddie Kohler responded with a 3-pointer to pull Saint Mary’s within one, but time was not on the Belles’ side, as the Hornets held on with late free throws to win.
Henley said the loss against a strong Kalamazoo team did not discourage her.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, and it was,” Henley said, “I am very proud of how this team continues to battle throughout the season.”
The Belles will travel to Hope College on Wednesday for a 7:30 game against the Flying Dutch.
Contact Andrew Robinson at [email protected]