As the winter sports season approaches, Saint Mary’s athletic spotlight will be falling on the basketball team, as they are the only sport in this season. The team will be returning to the court led by head coach Melissa Makielski, who has been the head coach of Belles basketball since the fall of 2016. The rest of the coaching staff will consist of returning assistant coach Hannah Marko, joined by new assistant coach Mark Smith.
The team as a whole looks promising chemistry-wise, with a total of 10 returning players. Returning captains, and now seniors, guards Maddie Rzepka and Nikki Murphy will be the leaders on the team consisting of eight upperclassmen. Rzepka was the leader in points for the Belles’ last season (207) while Murphy led the team with 56 assists. Junior transfer forward Athena Samson, who previously played on Albion College’s team, will be joining the squad to add some new talent to the team. Incoming freshman guards Alyssa Matuza and Nicole Connolly will be joining as new additions to complete the 13 player roster for the season.
The Belles will be picking up from an unfortunate 6-20 record in the 2021-2022 season. Saint Mary’s, just as every other NCAA team, has struggled to regain their footing post the canceled 2020-2021 season. The team will, however, be kicking off the season with six home games out of their first eight.
The home court advantage will be present at their first game of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 9 against the North Central College Cardinals. The Cardinals also did not have the most successful season last year as they went 9-17. However, one of those wins came against the Belles, also in South Bend as their season opener.
But, the Belles look to make a change from last season with their new players, as well as their seniors. The Belles open their season at home in the Angela Athletic Complex on Wednesday. The game tips off at 7 p.m. EST.
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