Belles Downed by Bulldogs
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Free throws proved to be the difference in the Saint Mary's basketball team's 57-49 loss against Adrian at home on Wednesday night. The visiting Bulldogs hit 28-of-33 attempts from the line while the Belles posted a 4-of-11 effort at the stripe in the game.
The visiting Bulldogs came out of the opening tip-off and capitalized on three of their first four possessions by scoring six points. The Belles came right back and rattled off an 8-0 run to make it an 8-6 contest with 14:50 left in the opening period.
Neither team was able to establish a sizable lead during the first half. Each time one side took the upper hand, the other responded with points to keep well within striking distance. The Bulldogs pulled ahead with a 12-8 lead, but again the Belles followed up with a response with consecutive buckets by Kelsey Ronan and Eleni Shea to deadlock the score at 12-12.
Ronan made it six points in-a-row for the Belles with an offensive rebound and a good put back to give Saint Mary's a 14-12 lead with 8:57 on the clock, but Adrian had their own second-chance layup on the ensuing possession to tie the game for the fourth time through the opening 12 minutes.
Maddie Kohler regained the lead for Saint Mary's with a free throw at 7:04, but two free throws by Adrian shifted the lead for a fourth time. The Belles stayed within a possession of the Bulldogs' lead until a three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in the half gave Adrian a 25-19 advantage. The Belles, however, had the last say in the half when Gabby Diamond collected an offensive rebound and put the ball right back up and in just before the buzzer to make it a 25-21 game at the break.
Saint Mary's quickly erased the deficit in the second half with buckets by Ronan and Ariana Paul to tie the game at 25-25. Paul then gave the Belles the lead with 18 minutes to play.
The Bulldogs posted a counter-attack with a 9-0 run to go ahead 34-27 while taking up four and a half minutes of game time with their scoring spurt. Trailing by that same seven-point margin two minutes later, Saint Mary's chipped away at the Bulldogs. Krista Knapke cleaned up the glass on her own miss to make it 36-31. The junior forward then fed a pass in to the block to Molly Robinson for a layup to make it a 36-33 contest with 10:34 to go.
Knapke and Robinson teamed up in a similar way two possessions later to get the Belles within a point of the Bulldogs at 36-35 with less than ten minutes to play. After a layup by Adrian, the pair struck yet again to make it 38-37.
Dialing up the pressure, Saint Mary's forced Adrian into a turnover at mid-court and made the give away count as Sarah Macius sunk the fastbreak layup to give the Belles a 39-38 lead with 7:37 on the clock.
A 7-0 spurt by the Bulldogs saw the lead trade hands yet again as Adrian regained a six-point cushion with under six minutes remaining, but the Belles were far from done. Saint Mary's scored eight of the next ten points in the game to draw even at 47-47 with Eleni Shea draining a three-pointer, and Ronan, Knapke, and Paul all posting points to tie the game with 2:50 left in the second half.
Two free throws gave the lead back to Adrian, but Paul hit a jump shot with under two minutes remaining to tie the game at 49-49. The second-half comeback, however, was stopped short late. The Bulldogs got the lead back on their next possession and made six of their final eight free throw attempts for the 57-49 decision.
The game featured 10 ties and eight lead changes throughout the night as neither team ever held more than an eight-point lead. The Belles held a 32-18 scoring advantage in points in the paint and a 41-38 edge in rebounds on the night. Of those rebounds, Saint Mary's had 22 offensive boards to Adrian's 12 in the game.
Kelsey Ronan led the Belles with a career-high 12 points on a 6-of-7 shooting performance from the floor. Ariana Paul added 11 points while eclipsing the 200 career steal plateau. Molly Robinson chipped in 10 points, and Krista Knapke led the Belles with nine rebounds and five assists to go along with six points.
The Belles (3-18, 1-11 MIAA) have their fourth home game in-a-row on Saturday when they host Kalamazoo for a 3:00 p.m. conference contest.