Belles Battle Past Lady Blues
WHEATON, Ill. - Shanlynn Bias capped off a career-high 17 point effort by making a layup as she was fouled with three seconds remaining to push the Saint Mary's basketball team to a 75-73 win over Illinois College to open the 2012-13 season.
The game was the first of four in the Wheaton College Beth Baker Classic, which also features the host Thunder and Blackburn College.
Early in the opening half of play, the Lady Blues turned a 5-3 deficit into a 10-5 lead in a 1:11 span. That five-point lead would be Illinois College's largest of the contest, however, as the Belles closed out the final 4:30 minutes of the first half with a 16-1 run for a 45-34 lead at the break.
Saint Mary's held the advantage throughout the second half until the final two minutes of action. The Lady Blues turned a rebound off a missed free throw into a good jump shot in the lane the other way with 1:52 on the clock to knot the game at 71-71. Two possessions later, Krista Knapke drained a pair of free throws to give the lead back to the Belles with just under a minute remaining.
The Lady Blues then turned a Saint Mary's turnover into a layup with only six seconds remaining in regulation to square the game at 73-73. The Belles, however, had no plans on heading to overtime as Knapke pushed the ball forward to Bias, who scored a fastbreak layup at the other end with :03 on the clock while getting fouled on the play. The junior guard missed the ensuing free throw, but the Lady Blues were unable to force overtime or take the win in the final three seconds of play as Saint Mary's claimed the 75-73 victory.
Shanlynn Bias finished the game with a career-high and game-best 17 points for the Belles. Krista Knapke was right behind Bias with 16 points in her first collegiate game. The freshman was 6-of-9 from the floor and added three assists in a team-high 36 minutes of play. Emily Page came off the bench to help spur the offense by adding 14 points of her own while leading the team with seven rebounds.
As a team, the Belles turned 26 Illinois College turnovers into 34 points while holding the Lady Blues to just 15 points on 20 Saint Mary's giveaways.
It is the fifth consecutive season coach Jenn Henley's team has opened up their season with a win. The 75-point effort is the most in a season opener since the Belles were on the wrong side of a 94-75 final against Defiance to start the 1997-98 season.
The Belles (1-0) will await the outcome of the contest between Blackburn and Wheaton to see who their opponent in the championship game will be tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. CST.