Belles Outdueled by No. 7 Knights
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team shot better than 40 percent from the floor, held an edge in rebounding, and scored 40 points in the paint, but it was not enough as the Belles fought to the final whistle in a 96-62 loss in their home finale against seventh-ranked Calvin on Monday night.
The Knights started the game with an 11-2 run through the first 3:20 of play, but that did not deter the Belles' efforts. Kelsey Ronan and Ariana Paul hit back-to-back shots for Saint Mary's to make it a five-point game less than a minute later.
After a pair of free throws by Calvin, the Belles cut into the difference even more with a pair of jump shots by Paul to make it a 13-10 game in favor of the Knights with 12:40 remaining in the first half. On the Belles' next possession, Krista Knapke drained a layup to keep it a three-point game at 15-12 with 12:12 to go.
The Knights responded with a 12-0 run to push their lead to 15 points at 27-12 while taking a shade over three minutes to do so. Again, the Belles refused to roll over and go down quietly. Maddie Kohler made a backdoor cut and put down a layup to stop the run. After a layup on the other end by the Knights, the Belles posted five consecutive points with Paul hitting a jump shot and Sarah Macius converting a three-point play to get the Belles within 10 points with 6:56 to play in the first half.
Calvin countered with a 9-1 spurt to go ahead 38-20 with less than three minutes left on the clock. Both teams were hot from the floor over the final 2:30 of play, but the Belles were perfect in their shot attempts during the closing minutes. Kohler added another layup, Gabby Diamond hit both ends of a one-and-one, Paul drained a jumper, Knapke was good in the paint, and Megan Hussey made both of her free throws as the Belles trailed 44-30 at the half.
The Knights extended their lead to 22 points through the first six minutes of the second period, but again the Belles put up a fight. Molly Robinson connected with Knapke for a layup, and Macius hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 58-41 and enliven the Saint Mary's side with nearly 13 minutes left.
Calvin, however, distanced themselves over the next six minutes by outscoring the Belles by a 21-6 margin and would maintain at least a 26-point lead down the stretch.
The Belles out-rebounded the Knights by a 40-38 margin with an 18-11 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Ariana Paul barely missed out on what would have been her eighth double-double of the season in her last home game with team-bests of 16 points and nine rebounds. Krista Knapke added 13 points, and Eleni Shea scored all nine of her points in the second half alone for the Belles. Sarah Macius chipped in six points and led the team with three assists.
The Belles (3-20, 1-13 MIAA) travel to Albion on Wednesday, February 18 for an 8:00 p.m. conference game against the Brits.