Belles Fall in Heart-breaker Against Hornets

Box Score

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team lost a heart-breaker in overtime against Kalamazoo by a 71-70 final score.

In a game which neither team ever held more than an eight-point lead, the Belles jumped out a 6-0 lead through the first two minutes of action. Maddie Kohler bounced a pass into the paint to lead Kelsey Ronan to a layup. Ariana Paul swiped a steal, cleaned up an offensive rebound, and sunk a layup half a minute later. Eleni Shea capped off the game-opening scoring spurt with a layup on the fastbreak off a pass by Kohler to give Saint Mary's the 6-0 advantage.

A 12-2 run by the Hornets switched the lead, but that advantage did not last long as the Belles responded with a 12-4 run of their own while stifling the Hornets' offense to go ahead 20-16 with 5:25. A three-point play by Paul a minute and a half later gave Saint Mary's a five-point lead with under four minutes to go before halftime.

Ariana Paul scored a game-high 21 points.
Ariana Paul scored a game-
high 21 points.
As the clock moved toward the final minute of play, Kohler came up with a steal and Shea capitalized on the added possession with a layup to keep the Belles' lead at five points with 1:11 to play. The Hornets hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds as Saint Mary's held a 27-24 lead at the break after Belles held Kalamazoo to a 26.9 field goal percentage while posting a 44.4 field goal percentage of their own.

The Belles continued to be the aggressors while shooting 50 percent from the floor during the second half. Krista Knapke hit back-to-back baskets, and Ariana Paul added a jump shot after a steal before sinking a pair of free throws to pull Saint Mary's ahead 43-35 midway through the second period.

The Hornets cut the Belles' lead to two points at 51-49 after a pair of free throws with 4:54 left in the half. Saint Mary's kept fighting and extended the lead to seven points after an 8-1 spurt. Krista Knapke found Molly Robinson for a pair of layups, and Robinson made both ends of a trip to the free throw line to make it 57-50 with 2:03 on the clock.

After a bucket by the Hornets, Robinson struck again with a second-chance layup to put the Belles up 59-52 with 1:14 to go.

Five consecutive points by Kalamazoo made it a 59-57 game with half a minute remaining in the second period. Maddie Kohler sunk a free throw to put the Belles up 60-57 just five seconds later. Kalamazoo got an offensive rebound on a missed three-pointer and drew a foul on the follow up shot. The Hornets made both free throws to make it a 60-59 with nine seconds, but Ariana Paul pushed the Belles' lead to three points with two free throws after the Kalamazoo foul.

With the Belles defense clamped down during the closing seconds, the Hornets drew a foul on a deep three pointer with 0.3 seconds and made all three free throws to tie the game and force overtime.

In the extra period, Kalamazoo got out to a 66-62 lead in the first 1:19 of play. Paul hit Knapke on the next Saint Mary's possession for a layup, and the two traded roles less than a minute later as Knapke drew the Belles even at 66-66 with 2:48 on the clock. Saint Mary's regained the lead on a layup by Shea with just over two minutes to go.

The Hornets tied the game for the seventh time, but Paul made two free throws with 1:10 remaining to make it 70-68 in favor of Saint Mary's. Two free throws and a steal by the Hornets later, the Belles sent Kalamazoo to the free throw line with 20 seconds left. The Hornets hit just the front end of the double bonus to give Saint Mary's a chance at the game-winning shot.

Krista Knapke and Ariana Paul each had a look at a close-range jump shot in the paint with less than ten seconds remaining, but both shots were barely off the mark. Knapke tied up a Kalamazoo player on the rebound after Paul's shot, and the alternating possession arrow gave the ball back to Saint Mary's with two seconds left. Knapke was the recipient of the in bounds pass along the baseline and got off the potential game-winner, but her mid-range jump shot was off the mark as the game ended 71-70 in the Hornets' favor.

Ariana Paul led all players with 21 points and barely missed out on the double-double with nine rebounds. Krista Knapke added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Eleni Shea and Molly Robinson each scored 10 points for the Belles.

The Belles (3-19, 1-12 MIAA) conclude their five-game home stretch next Saturday, February 14 when they host Calvin at 3:00 p.m.