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SMC Basketball

Belles fall to North Park

| Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Saint Mary’s suffered its second loss this season in Tuesday’s home game against North Park, surrendering 53 points in the second half for a final score of 92-68.

Belles coach Jennifer Henley pointed to defensive struggles inside as the major source of the team’s lack of success.

“We have to do a better job stopping the drive,” Henley said. “That’s been our problem the past two games. We’re giving up too many points in the paint.”

Saint Mary’s had a 6-5 lead about 13 minutes into the game before the Vikings scored 18 unanswered points against the Belles. Saint Mary’s was never able to recover from the deficit or narrow the gap, as North Park went on to dominate after halftime with 53 points.

“We get beat; we don’t call for help,” Henley said. “We scored enough points to win today, but we can’t expect things to go our way when we allow 53 points in the second half.”

The Belles finished with a 43.3 shooting percentage, with the Vikings’ shooting percentage only slightly higher at 45.8. However, North Park had a more drastic advantage in free throw percentages, sinking 33-of-37 to the Belles’ 15-of-27. The foul trouble that gave the Vikings several free throw opportunities was a significant factor in the loss, Henley said.

“It’s frustrating when we have a lot of foul problems, which goes back to us not being able to stop the drive,” Henley said. “We don’t have great lateral movement right now.”

Forwards junior Krista Knapke and senior Ariana Paul led the Belles in scoring with 15 points each. Though the offensive effort could not offset the defensive troubles, Henley said Knapke improved since the previous loss to Wheaton.

“She played better than what she did against Wheaton; we found her a lot more which is something we’ve been looking at,” Henley said. “Krista’s been a three-year starter so she’s obviously our go-to in the paint. I think things are going to get harder for her as teams start double-teaming her. I thought she played well.”

Henley also said the play of junior guard Maddie Kohler was a highlight despite the defeat.

“Maddie’s a kid who’s going to do things that aren’t going to show up on the scoreboard for you,” Henley said. “She has an intensity defensively that when she’s guarding the other team’s point guard, she’s a presence. She’s the calm in the storm, she calls out the plays, she gets things going. Maddie’s stat line is never going to be something that a lot of people write about because she does a lot of things you can’t measure.”

Saint Mary’s travels to North Central in Naperville, Illinois, on Friday for a two-day tournament. The Belles play North Central at 6 p.m.

About Renee Griffin

Notre Dame senior, formerly of Farley Hall. Originally from Lake Zurich, IL, majoring in American Studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Enjoys talkin' about practice.

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