Belles Fall to Bulldogs in Overtime

Box Score

ADRIAN, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team lost a 74-65 overtime conference contest at Adrian on Saturday afternoon.

Ariana Paul led all players with 25 points.
Ariana Paul led all players with
25 points.
Back-to-back baskets by the Bulldogs in the opening four minutes of play gave Adrian a 7-4 lead early in the game. The Belles countered with an 8-0 run with Krista Knapke and Ariana Paul providing the one-two punch to quickly turn the tables and give Saint Mary's a 12-7 advantage with 13:32 left in the opening half of play.

It was Adrian's turn to land a punch in the scoring column as the Bulldogs posted a 9-0 run over the next five minutes of action to regain a 16-12 lead with just under nine minutes left on the clock. Both teams fought for position and points over the final eight minutes of play as neither team pulled ahead by more than four points in what would be a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the game.

Four ties over the closing four minutes of the opening half led to the Belles claiming a 32-30 lead at the half after Madie Kohler found Gabby Diamond in the paint for an open jump shot with 12 seconds left before the buzzer.

The Belles jumped out to a regulation-best seven-point lead with a 6-1 spurt in the opening three minutes of the second half. The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead quickly with a good layup and a three-point play on their next two possessions to make it 38-37 in favor of Saint Mary's with 15:18 to go in the second period.

Saint Mary's picked up good buckets by Knapke and Paul to make it a two-possession lead at 42-37 less than two minutes later. The Belles continued to come up with an answer to the Bulldogs over the next several minutes and hold on to the lead while pushing the advantage to six with a three-pointer by Heather Pesigan with 6:21 remaining to pull ahead 53-47.

Less than three minutes, however, the advantage disappeared for the Belles as the Bulldogs drained a pair of three-pointers and a layup on three consecutive possessions to knot the score at 55-55 with 3:43 to go. Adrian then claimed their first lead of the second half after a pair of free throws, but Molly Robinson squared things away quickly with a good jump shot off a pass from Paul with 2:52 remaining.

The defense for the Belles came up with a big stop 30 seconds later by drawing an offensive foul against the Bulldogs, and Saint Mary's made the most of their earned possession as Robinson found Knapke in the lane for a layup to put the Belles ahead 59-57 with 2:07 on the clock.

Adrian picked up a second-chance layup to tie the game for the ninth time with 1:24, but the Belles came up with another response as Shea found Paul for the good jump shot with 56 seconds left to put Saint Mary's ahead 61-59.

Maddie Kohler posted a season-high six assists.
Maddie Kohler posted a
season-high six assists.
The Belles forced the Bulldogs into committing a turnover but were unable to distance themselves late after missing the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. Maddie Kohler then came up with a big defensive rebound after a missed Bulldog jump shot with less than 20 seconds remaining. Ariana Paul hit the second of her two free throws with 11 seconds on the clock to give Saint Mary's a 62-59 lead late. Adrian, however, hit the game-tying three-pointer with three seconds left to force overtime.

In the extra period, the Belles had a tough time getting buckets to fall while the Bulldogs made 8-of-12 free throws while outscoring the Belles 12-3 over the five-minute overtime.

The Belles held a 43-35 advantage in rebounds against the Bulldogs and a 12-11 edge in second-chance points while posting a 44.6 field goal percentage to Adrian's 42.9 field goal percentage.

Ariana Paul had her third 20-plus point performance of the year with a game-high 25 points for the Belles. Krista Knapke tacked on 14 points, and Molly Robinson narrowly missed out on a double-double with ten points and a team-leading nine rebounds. Maddie Kohler posted a season-best six assists while picking up a pair of steals for Saint Mary's.

The Belles (3-10, 1-3 MIAA) continue their stretch of road games next week when they travel to Kalamazoo on Wednesday, January 7 for a 7:30 p.m. contest against the Hornets.