Belles Fend Off Scots in Conference Opener

Box Score

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team held off a late push by visiting Alma to earn a 64-61 conference win on Wednesday night.

Prior to the game, New Carlisle native Bryanna Sikora officially joined the basketball team through the organization Team IMPACT.
Prior to the game, New Carlisle native Bryanna
Sikora officially joined the basketball team through
the organization Team IMPACT.
After a back-and-forth duel saw the teams trade baskets over the opening four-and-a-half minutes of play, the Belles were the ones to take control. Saint Mary's posted an 11-0 run while taking solid control of both the ball and the game over a three-minute span to build a 19-8 advantage over the Scots. The Belles scored on five of their six possessions while not giving up a turnover during what proved to be a crucial run in the game.

The Scots turned up the pressure and the pace of play and were able to put nine points on the scoreboard in a matter of 31 seconds to make it a five-point game with the Belles leading 22-17.

Neither team was able to find success in the form of points with the next five possessions, but the Belles were able to break Alma's momentum and regain a six-point lead after Maddie Kohler hit both ends of a one-and-one with 5:43 remaining in the first half.

Alma picked up a layup on a second-chance opportunity to edge within four points at 23-19 with less than five minutes on the clock, but Kohler was clutch at the line again to push the Belles' advantage back to six at 25-19. Three minutes later, Saint Mary's extended the lead to a game-high 12 points at 31-19 as the clock moved just below the two-minute mark.

Eleni Shea ensured that the Belles held a double-digit lead at the break with a layup with 16 seconds left on the clock to put Saint Mary's ahead 34-24 at halftime.

The Belles regained a 12-point advantage twice in the opening 5:44 of the second half with the latter of those two leads being 45-33 with 14:16 on the clock. The Scots, however, did not go away without a furious comeback over the next 12:37 of play.

Alma started their comeback with back-to-back three pointers to cut the lead in half at 45-39. The Belles flirted with regaining a double-digit advantage by pulling ahead by nine points twice before the Scots shaved the lead to just three points as Saint Mary's clung to a 52-49 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Six consecutive points by Eleni Shea gave the Belles yet another nine-point lead, but that margin quickly dissipated to one point as Alma put together a 10-2 run to make it 60-59 with 1:39 left in the second half. After a timeout, the Belles worked their offense and Ariana Paul found Krista Knapke in the paint for a layup to make it a three-point game with more than a minute remaining.

The Scots were unable to get any points out of their next possession, and Paul was able to all but put the game away with a pair of free throws with nine seconds left. Alma hit a pair of free throws in the final second of the game, but the Belles' lead was insurmountable that late in the game as Saint Mary's picked up the 64-61 win.

Eleni Shea scored a new career-high 19 points to lead all players, and Ariana Paul picked up her third double-double of the year with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Krista Knapke chipped in 13, and Maddie Kohler dropped in 10 points in the win.

The Belles (3-3, 1-0 MIAA) travel to in-state MIAA rival Trine for a 1:00 p.m. contest against the Thunder on Saturday, December 6.