Belles Sunk by Comets
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Visiting Olivet opened the second half with a 15-2 run to take a 54-46 lead, and another comeback attempt came up just short as the Saint Mary's basketball team fell 79-75 on Saturday afternoon.
Saint Mary's established a seven-point lead through the first six-and-a-half minutes of play by scoring on eight of their first 11 possessions. Olivet came back with a spurt of their own and took their first lead since the opening basket of the game with a three-pointer with 10:55 remaining in the first half. The Belles' hard-nosed defense forced the Comets into four turnovers over the next two-and-a-half minutes and took a five-point edge with 7:49 to go in the opening period.
The Belles pushed that lead to nine one three instances in the final two minutes of the half before the Comets closed out the period with four free throws for the 44-39 halftime score. Both teams took 31 shots from the floor over the opening 20 minutes with the Belles making 15 of those shots to Olivet's 12. Saint Mary's was also 13-of-13 from the free throw line in the first half, while the Comets were 11-of-13 from the charity stripe in the opening period.
The Comets then used a 15-2 run over the first five minutes of the second half to take an eight-point lead. Saint Mary's halved that lead with a pair of free throws by Ariana Paul and a layup by Krista Knapke, but a 12-4 burst by Olivet ballooned the Comet advantage to 14 with 10:07 remaining.
Saint Mary's again dug in deep and turned up the defensive pressure. A 10-point run by the Belles in less than four minutes of play to cut the lead to 68-64.
With under two minutes left in the game, Bernadette Jordan drained a three-pointer to get the Belles within one at 76-75. At the other end, the Comets missed a pair of free throws and Ariana Paul snagged her 10th rebound to give Saint Mary's a chance to regain the lead. On the ensuing possession, the Belles had three attempts bounce off the inside of the rim and out before Olivet gained possession of a rebound under the basket. After two missed free throws and a rebound by Eleni Shea, Saint Mary's again saw a good look at the basket bounce away.
Over the final 15 seconds, Olivet hit three of four free throws to pull ahead by the final 79-75 margin.
Saint Mary's made more shots (25) from the floor than Olivet (24), but the visiting Comets hit eight of their 16 three-point attempts to the Belles' 2-of-2 mark on shots from distance.
Ariana Paul had career-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double for the Belles while also adding four steals and four assists. Shanlynn Bias added 17 points as she went a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line in the game. Krista Knapke also could not miss from the charity stripe, connecting on all four of her trips on her way to 14 points. Bias and Bernadette Jordan both tallied four assists for Saint Mary's.
The Belles (2-5, 0-2 MIAA) will travel to Kalamazoo on Wednesday, December 5 for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Hornets.