Belles Rally Runs Short Against Hornets
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Trailing by 10 points midway through the second half, the Saint Mary's basketball team pulled within a point of host Kalamazoo but ran out of time for the comeback, falling 70-67 on Saturday.
Through the opening minutes of play, the Belles established an early lead with a 6-2 advantage over the Hornets while also cleaning up the glass and limiting Kalamazoo's looks at the basket. With the game later tied at 12-12, Ariana Paul and Eleni Shea hit four free throws in-a-row to push the lead back to a four-point margin for Saint Mary's.
Leading by just one point at 19-18 with 10:31 to go, Shea and Paul added good baskets for the Belles on consecutive possessions to give Saint Mary's their largest lead of the contest at 23-18. A minute later, Kelsey Ronan sunk a layup to keep the Belles ahead by a 25-20 margin.
Saint Mary's continued to counter any push by Kalamazoo until the Hornets were able to score six straight points for their first lead of the contest at 33-31 with 2:17 left before the break. Shanlynn Bias cleaned up the offensive glass and drained a put-back jump shot to tie the game at 33-33 on the Belles' next possession of the game.
The Hornets hit both ends of a trip to the charity stripe to go ahead 35-33, but Sarah Macius made the first of two free throws in the final minute of the half to make it a 35-34 game at the break.
A pair of layups to open the second half put Kalamazoo up 39-34, but the Belles responded three minutes later with a good three-pointer by Maddie Kohler and a good jump shot by Ariana Paul to knot the score at 41-41.
After Shanlynn Bias sent to game to its seventh tie with a jump shot in the paint to even the score at 43-43, Kalamazoo went on a 12-2 run over the next five and a half minutes to take the biggest lead of the game by either team at 55-45.
The resilient Belles continued to chip away and battle right back into the game. Shea and Paul teamed up again to hit back-to-back jumpers in the paint to pull Saint Mary's within a point of the lead at 60-59 with 3:13 left in the period.
With the Hornets up four after a three-point play, Shea sunk both free throws to keep it a one-possession game with under three minutes remaining in the contest. Kalamazoo came back with a pair of free throws and a layup after a Saint Mary's shot clock violation to push their lead back to six points at 67-61 with 1:36 to go.
On the next possession, Krista Knapke came up with the big shot for the Belles with a jump shot in the lane to make it a four-point game. The Hornets added two more free throws, but Saint Mary's responded yet again with good free throws of their own by Shea and Knapke to get Saint Mary's within 69-67 with 26 second left in the game.
After the Hornets missed the front end of a double-bonus opportunity at the charity stripe, the Belles had the chance to tie the game with 10 seconds left. Ariana Paul's effort to tie the game with a three-pointer from the right side of the court was off the mark, and the Belles saw their comeback run out of time against the Hornets on the road.
Kalamazoo held a 36-30 scoring advantage in the paint while also out-rebounding the Belles 47-35. Saint Mary's was able to turn 22 turnovers by the Hornets into 19 points while Kalamazoo scored 15 points off of 13 giveaways by the Belles.
Ariana Paul led the Belles' scoring efforts with 16 points while adding a game-best nine rebounds. Shanlynn Bias added 14 points, and Eleni Shea chipped in 11 points for Saint Mary's. Bias, Paul, and Timoney Moyer each added three assists while Paul and Heather Pesigan collected three steals apiece.
The Belles (4-10, 2-3 MIAA) return to Angela Athletic Facility to host Calvin in an MIAA match up on Wednesday, January 15, starting at 7:30 p.m.