Belles lose again to Hope after poor first half
Elizabeth Greason | Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Despite winning the second half by a point, a poor start by Saint Mary’s proved to be too much to overcome in Saturday’s 95-58 loss to No. 4 Hope.
The Belles (1-21, 1-12 MIAA) weren’t able to top 20 points in the first half, entering halftime down, 55-17. The team struggled throughout the half, failing to score its first points until almost eight minutes into the game. The Belles gained some momentum as the points started to come in the second quarter, but they trailed, 34-8, before they moved into double digits.
Saint Mary’s shot just 20.7 percent from the field in the half, while Hope (21-0, 13-0) shot a high 66.7 percent mark from the field to build its large advantage. The Belles also struggled keeping care of the ball, giving up 20 points to the Flying Dutch on turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
After a difficult start to the game, the Belles showed themselves in a better light in the second half. After reevaluating the team’s approach on both sides of the ball, Saint Mary’s showed massive improvements after halftime. Belles head coach Jennifer Henley said she felt a more aggressive offensive approach was key.
“We made some adjustments in our offense in the second half that allowed us to attack better,” Henley said.
Statistically, Saint Mary’s played like a completely different team in the second half. The Belles had a 51.6 percent field goal percentage and was able to outscore Hope by one point, 41-40, in the second half.
Senior forward Krista Knapke earned her fifth double-double of the season, while her fellow senior captains, guard Maddie Kohler and forward Eleni Shea, joined her in double digits, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively.
According to Henley, Hope’s defense was the most difficult aspect to overcome, but the Belles made progress in breaking through it in the second half.
“Hope did a great job defensively in taking away our initial pass in our offensive sets,” Henley said. “This forced us to run more of a spread offense and look for the one on one option more than we usually like to do.”
According to Henley, the game was not all bad news for the Belles, especially considering their comeback against the conference leader.
“Hope is a great team,” Henley said. “Give them credit. Not only are they the best in our division, but they are the fourth-ranked Division III team in the country. We have three games left, and we are looking to send our seniors off on a great season.”
The next contest for the Belles is the annual Pink Game. The game will benefit the Angel Wings Fund, which was created by former Alma coach Keisha Brown, who lost her fourth battle with cancer in 2014, to benefit the children of those who have lost parent to breast cancer.
The Belles will be selling headbands and pink desserts at Wednesday’s game against Adrian, the proceeds of which will go toward the fund. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.