Belles Thwarted by Hornets
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Maddie Kohler hit a three-pointer with nine seconds left in the game to pull the Belles within a point of Kalamazoo. The Hornets, however, made 16 of their 18 free throws of the game in the second half alone to pull past Saint Mary's by a 71-66 final in MIAA basketball action on Saturday.
The Belles got off to a solid start against the Hornets by converting their first two possessions into good layups while establishing an 8-3 lead through the first three-and-a-half minutes of play. After Kalamazoo hit back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 8-8, it was clear that the second edition of the conference match up between the two teams would be similar to the first meeting when the Hornets edged out a three-point decision at home.
With the game knotted at 12-12, the Hornets went on a spurt to take the biggest lead of the game to that point with a 19-13 advantage with 12:13 to go in the first. The Belles returned the favor a few minutes later, using a 13-2 run to take a 28-23 lead with 6:44 remaining before the break.
Saint Mary's saw that same five-point lead dissipate when Kalamazoo sent the game to its fourth tie at 36-36 with just over two minutes left in the first period. Ariana Paul closed out the half for the Belles with three consecutive good jump shots over the final 1:20 to give Saint Mary's the 42-39 lead at the half.
Much like in the first 20 minutes of play, no lead was safe in the second half. Kalamazoo scored four straight points to push the game to its fifth tie at 44-44. With the game at a 46-46 deadlock three possessions later, Kalamazoo posted a 10-2 run to take what proved to be the largest lead either team would snag at 56-48 midway through the half.
This time, it was the Belles' turn to put the foot to the scoring gas pedal as Saint Mary's rattled off the next six points while keeping the Hornets off the scoreboard to make it a 56-54 contest with 8:26 remaining.
The final six-and-a-half minutes of play had the population of Angela Athletic Facility sitting on edge. Three free throws by Shanlynn Bias tied the game for the seventh time at 60-60 with 4:40 to go. The Belles then claimed their first lead since the 17-minute mark of the second half on a free throw by Eleni Shea with 3:17 left on the clock. The Hornets notched a layup on a second-chance opportunity, but Saint Mary's came right back with another Bias bucket to go ahead 63-62 with 2:15 remaining.
A pair of good free throws sandwiched around a layup by the Hornets put Kalamazoo ahead 67-63 with 17 seconds left, but the game was far from being finished. Maddie Kohler received the in-bounds pass, dribbled up the left side of the court, and drained a step-back three-pointer with nine seconds left to make it a 67-66 game.
The Hornets hit both ends of a double bonus opportunity at the line to gain a three-point lead. On the ensuing in-bounds play, the ball ended up between players from both teams, and the Hornets came out of the play with the ball. With three seconds left on the clock, Kalamazoo made their final two trips to the charity stripe to go ahead by the final margin of 71-66.
Kalamazoo held scoring advantages over Saint Mary's in points in the paint (36-26) as well as second-chance points (20-16). The Hornets were 16-of-27 from the free throw line in the second half alone to the Belles' 9-of-15 effort over the final 20 minutes of play.
Shanlynn Bias led all players with 18 points, Ariana Paul added 16 points, and Krista Knapke scored 11 points. Eleni Shea just missed out on double-digit points with nine while leading the Belles with eight rebounds.
The Belles (6-15, 4-8 MIAA) are back in action on Wednesday, February 12 when they travel to Hope for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Flying Dutch.