Belles Comeback Snubbed by Brits
ALBION, Mich. - A 14-3 run midway through the second half pulled the Saint Mary's basketball team within two points, but the Belles were unable to overtake Albion as the Brits claimed the 69-61 final.
The Brits opened up the game with a 10-2 run through the first four minutes of play. The Belles were getting good shots off and knew it was a matter of time before they were right back in the mix against Albion.
Those shots did start falling for Saint Mary's, and a pair of free throws by Eleni Shea and a three-pointer by Molly Robinson put the Belles within three points of the Brits at 17-14 with 9:08 remaining in the opening half. Albion, however, came back with back-to-back buckets and maintained at least a two-possession lead over Saint Mary's during the rest of the first period.
The Albion lead grew from eight points at halftime (34-26) to a game-high 14 points at 52-38 with 12:07 to go. But as the clock went on, the Belles made some defensive stops and extended a few possessions with offensive rebounds while swaying the momentum gradually in their favor.
Staring down a 57-44 deficit, Saint Mary's crashed the glass hard, drove to the hoop, and hit both their free throws and the mid-range jump shots to get right back into the game. Eleni Shea, Ariana Paul, and Krista Knapke combined to go 4-of-4 from the free throw line and 4-of-4 from the floor over a 3:15 span to make it a 58-56 game with 5:19 to go.
After a pair of free throws by the Brits gave Albion a 60-56 advantage, Ariana Paul continued the hot streak of shooting for the Belles with another good jump shot to get Saint Mary's back within two points at 60-58.
For as hot as Saint Mary's was from the floor, that is exactly how cold both teams were on both ends over the next minute and a half as neither team could quite capitalize on several layup chances. Unfortunately for the Belles' comeback effort, Saint Mary's were only able to post three free throws over the final four minutes of play while the Brits scored nine points over that same stretch of time.
Saint Mary's out-rebounded Albion by a 44-40 margin for the game with a 21-10 difference in offensive rebounds. Saint Mary's also posted a season-low 12 turnovers on the night while forcing the Brits into 19 giveaways. The Belles were also 70 percent from the free throw line (14-of-20), but the Brits made 25 of their 36 free throw attempts (69.4 percent) on the evening.
Ariana Paul led the Belles with 20 points on the night while adding six rebounds and three steals. Eleni Shea scored 14 points, and Krista Knapke tacked on 12 points and a team-best seven rebounds.
The Belles (3-21, 1-14 MIAA) conclude their season on Saturday, February 21 when they travel to Olivet for a 3:00 p.m. game.