Belles earn first win in more than year against Alma
Alex Carson | Thursday, December 10, 2015
Returning home proved to be the cure for the Belles’ woes, as they picked up their first win of the season Wednesday night, defeating Alma 68-56 at Angela Athletic Facility.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that saw Saint Mary’s (1-8, 1-2 MIAA) grab a 16-15 lead, the Belles exploded in the second quarter to grab a double-digit lead headed into the break. Trailing 19-18, a layup from sophomore forward Gabby Diamond gave the Belles a lead they would never relinquish, sparking a 20-6 run to close the first half, putting Saint Mary’s ahead 38-25 at the interval.
In the second half, the Belles were able to hold off the Scots (1-5, 0-2), who made a push to get back into the game. The Saint Mary’s advantage was trimmed to eight, 48-40, after the third quarter, and the visitors pulled within four in the final stanza, at 54-50.
However, the comeback was not to be for Alma. Belles junior forward Kelsey Ronan hit a layup to move the lead to six before freshman guard Erin Maloney took the Belles lead to nine by converting an and-1 with just under five minutes to play.
Alma closed a bit on the Saint Mary’s lead afterward at 61-56, but the Belles stayed strong at the free throw line the rest of the way to secure the win. Senior guard Maddie Kohler hit a jumper before the Belles went 5-for-6 from the stripe to close out the victory, scoring the last seven points of the contest to push their advantage back to 12 at the final buzzer.
“We had been working hard in practice this week preparing for Alma, and we were excited to have the chance to put it all together on the court,” senior forward Krista Knapke said.
Knapke led the Belles in two statistical categories Wednesday, dropping 14 points on 7-of-17 shooting and dishing out seven assists, while senior forward Eleni Shea just missed out on a double-double, notching 13 points and nine rebounds.
Despite her high-scoring night, Knapke said the whole squad played a big role in the win.
“Everyone on the team is playing an important role and really starting to mesh together and playing off of each others strengths,” Knapke said.
Maloney and Kohler also finished in double figures, recording 13 and 11 points respectively, to complete the quartet of Belles starters above the 10-point mark. Alma freshman forward Kelsey Wolffis led all scorers with 15 points, while senior forward Raeanna Zink made her presence known for the Scots with nine points and 10 rebounds.
The win broke a 27-game, year-long losing streak for Saint Mary’s, marking the Belles’ first win since a 64-61 home victory over Alma on Dec. 3, 2014; Knapke, Kohler and Shea all scored double figure in that game as well.
“It felt great to get a conference win tonight on our home court,” Knapke said. “Tonight was definitely a momentum boost heading into another big conference game this Saturday.”
Saint Mary’s continues conference play Saturday when it travels to Angola, Indiana, for a 1 p.m. tipoff against Trine.