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Belles ride monster third quarter in conference win

The Saint Mary’s basketball team evened their conference record at 1-1 on Saturday, blasting Adrian 88-70. The Belles showcased their depth, with four substitutes playing at least 12 minutes and combining for 31 points. Junior guard Elle Deardorff led all scorers with 19 points, sparked by 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range. Sophomore forward Julia Schutz added 16 points and made all three of her three-point attempts. She also collected nine rebounds. Deardorff and Schutz combined for eight of Saint Mary’s 11 triples, sparking the offense.

The Belles trailed at the halftime horn in this one, with a sluggish first quarter getting them off on the wrong foot. Adrian led 40-36 after two quarters of play. However, a monster third quarter did much of the damage for Saint Mary’s. They outscored the Bulldogs 33-12 in the period, opening up a dominant advantage that wasn’t threatened in the final frame.

Up 8-7 early, Saint Mary’s allowed a 10-0 run from Adrian to fall into an early deficit. A late triple from Lauren Gumma pulled the Belles within 19-13 after ten minutes. Saint Mary’s clawed back and took a brief lead, but Adrian pulled back ahead.

Down four at halftime, the Belles used a quick three-point barrage to overtake the vistors. Deardorff made a pair of threes in 31 seconds, and Schutz added a third as Saint Mary’s opened with a 9-0 run. The duo combined to score the first 15 Saint Mary’s points of the quarter. Then, after Adrian got back to within 48-45, the Belles ripped off a 6-0 spurt to flirt with expanding their lead into the double digits. The advantage stayed in around 9-12 points for a while, but Saint Mary’s closed the period on a tear to seize control. Up 61-51, they ended on a 8-1 run to take a commanding 69-52 advantage into the final quarter.

In the fourth, the lead stayed safe throughout, as Adrian never mounted a significant comeback. The Belles pushed out the lead to as much as 23 points and cruised to the finish line. They improved to 1-1 in MIAA play and 4-4 overall. The Belles play a pair of games this weekend. First, they’ll take on local rival Holy Cross on Tuesday night in a non-conference battle. Then, on Thursday, the Belles will travel to Calvin (5-2, 0-2 MIAA) for another conference game. Tipoff on Tuesday is at 6 p.m.

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Sports

Belles fall short, lose to Wheaton 76-68

On the road, the Saint Mary’s basketball team dropped their first game of the season, falling 76-68 to the Wheaton Thunder. A slow defensive start put the Belles behind the eight-ball, trailing for the entirety of the final three quarters. 

Senior guard Maddie Rzepka led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Elle Deardorff added 14 points on 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Her three triples equaled half of Saint Mary’s total, as the Belles shot just 36.5% from the field. They were 6-18 from three-point range. On the flip side, the Thunder shot 44.8% and outrebounded the Belles 42-36. They also got 21 points from their bench, sparked by a 3-5 three-point shooting effort from Anna Fernandez. The Thunder shot just 11-23 from the free throw line and 5-19 from distance, but their defensive pressure made up for offensive inconsistencies. They notched 16 steals and eight blocks in the contest. 

In a high-scoring first quarter, the Belles traded punches with their hosts, but they couldn’t quite match Wheaton’s 26-point period and trailed 26-21 at the break. There were several lead changes in that first ten minutes, but Fernandez drilled a triple with 1:13 remaining to give Wheaton a 22-19 advantage. The Belles never led again in the game. 

Inconsistent offense plagues Belles

Part of that could be attributed to a significant slump in the second quarter. The Belles went eight minutes and 19 seconds without notching a field goal. However, Wheaton also struggled during this stretch and scored just 12 points in the quarter. That kept Saint Mary’s in the game, trailing just 38-29 at halftime. 

The Belles clawed back in the third quarter. After going down by 13, the Belles broke off a 10-2 run to get back within five at 52-47. Rzepka’s three-ball punctuated the run. Saint Mary’s briefly got within a possession at 55-52 and trailed by four heading into the final quarter. However, the comeback was not to be. The Thunder dominated the early portion of the quarter, ballooning their advantage to 69-55 with under five minutes to play. The Belles cut it back to 71-66 with an 11-2 run, but that was as close as it got. Five straight points from Wheaton ended any faint rally hopes, as the Thunder secured the eight-point victory. 

The Belles fall to 2-1 and will look to rebound on Thursday. They host Illinois Tech at 7 p.m.