Belles Tame Bulldogs, Clinch Spot in MIAA Tournament
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - An early 12-0 run along with a late 13-0 run propelled the Saint Mary's basketball team to a 68-43 win over Adrian on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs tallied the first bucket of the game on the first possession of the game, but the Belles held Adrian scoreless over the next eight minutes of play while scoring 14 unanswered points to snag the 14-2 lead. Adrian chipped away at the Saint Mary's advantage and cut the lead to just five points on a layup by LaQwana Dockery. The Belles came right back with the next six points to increase the cushion to 11 points at 24-13 with 6:36 remaining before the half.
Saint Mary's took their largest lead of the opening period when Jessica Centa made a pair of free throws with 2:09 on the clock to put the Belles up 35-18. Adrian made a push late in the half to cut into the lead yet again. The Bulldogs had three straight buckets in the final two minutes of play to send game to the half with a score of 35-24.
The second half was closely-played by both sides as the Belles maintained their lead. With Saint Mary's up 55-42 with seven minutes remaining in the second half, the Belles used a 13-0 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes to double their lead to 68-42 to put the game well out of reach for the Bulldogs. Adrian was held without a field goal over the final 7:01 of the contest by the Saint Mary's defense.
Saint Mary's limited Adrian to just 19 second-half points while hitting 52 percent of their own shots for 33 second-half points. The Belles also sent the Bulldogs to the free throw line just four times, a season-low for an opponent, while making 20 trips to the charity stripe.
With the win, the Belles secured at least a top-four finish in the league for the regular season and a berth in the top-four only MIAA Tournament. It is also the seventh consecutive season that Saint Mary's has finished in the top four of the MIAA.
Kelley Murphy led all players with 20 points while sharing game-high honors for rebounds (8) and assists (5). Jessica Centa added 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor while making all four of her free throw attempts.
The Belles (12-11, 8-6 MIAA) have the second bye of the their conference season this weekend and will be in action next Wednesday when they travel to Calvin for a 7:30 p.m. contest against the Knights.