Belles host Britons to tip upcoming homestand
R.J. Stempak | Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Coming off a loss at Kalamazoo a week ago, Saint Mary’s will begin a three-game home stretch Wednesday night when it hosts Albion at Angela Athletic Facility.
The Britons (5-10, 2-5 MIAA), coming off a road win at Adrian, average more than 62 points per game in conference play.
The Belles (1-15, 1-6) will have their hands full keeping Briton senior captain Darian Payne off the glass and scoresheet — the forward leads Albion in both points (12.9) and rebounds (11.5) per game. Saint Mary’s senior captain and forward Krista Knapke, who averages 7.4 rebounds per game, will likely lead this effort. Sophomore forward Gabby Diamond said the team needs to have a strong rebounding night to top the Britons.
“We need to be stronger under the boards and show that for a team with a good amount of height, we are a threat under the basket and cannot let anyone out rebound us,” Diamond said.
If previous games are any indication, this should be a close battle on the boards for Saint Mary’s and Albion, who average 38 and 41 rebounds as a team respectively. Moving the ball on offense is another area of similarity for these two MIAA teams, with both Saint Mary’s and Albion averaging 12.5 assists per game. Both teams, however, turn the ball over nearly 20 times per game, and limiting turnovers could be a key for either team to win the game.
The Belles will hope to keep their offense flowing, as they have scored an average of 59 points in their last two contests, five points above their season average. Diamond said she believes the offense has not been the cause of their slump, and a focus on the other side of the court will lead to victory on Wednesday.
“I think that for us to be successful against Albion it’s important that we keep a strong focus on our defense,” Diamond said. “In our recent games we have not had trouble getting our shots in, but our communication on defense, or lack there of, has resulted in more opportunities for our opponents than we should allow them.”
Defensive communication is key in limiting opponent field goal percentage, an area where the Belles can improve, as they have been allowing opponents to shoot a high 43 percent mark on the season; Albion is shooting 37 percent from the field this year.
The Belles look to turn their conference season around Wednesday at Angela Athletic Facility, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.