Belles Out-Dueled by Cardinals
NAPERVILLE, Ill. - The Saint Mary's basketball team lost a 100-84 contest at North Central despite shooting 52.9 percent from the floor.
The Belles were 37-of-70 for the floor in the game to post their best shooting percentage since shooting 51.9 percent against North Central at home a year ago. The host Cardinals, meanwhile, were one three-point attempt off of the NCAA Division III record for attempts in a game with 67 while connecting on 16 of them.
The Belles were able to capitalize on some transition buckets and strong rebounding early to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 9-2 lead through the first four-and-a-half minutes of play for what proved to be their largest advantage of the game.
On their eleventh three-point attempt of the game, the Cardinals connected to make it 9-5 with the Belles holding on to the lead. After North Central scored on a layup off of a Saint Mary's turnover to make it 9-7, the Belles countered with a layup of their own to hold an 11-7 lead with 14:08 left in the first half.
North Central used a pair of free throws to jump start a 12-0 run to pull ahead 19-11 with just over 12 minutes remaining on the clock. The Belles stayed well within striking distance and chipped away at the deficit with back-to-back layups by Molly Robinson to make it a 21-17 contest with 10:28 to go before the break.
A minute later, Ariana Paul made it a four-point game at 23-19 with the Cardinals still leading after hitting a layup of her own. A quick spurt saw North Central pull ahead 28-19, but again the Belles had a response with back-to-back baskets by Paul and Krista Knapke to make it 28-23 with 5:17 on the clock.
The continued full-court pressure coupled with the quick-shooting offense of the Cardinals resulted in North Central scoring ten points in a span of 1:40 to balloon their lead to 15 at 40-25.
Paul and Knapke provided additional offense to get the deficit back into single digits at 41-32 with 45 seconds left, but the Cardinals took a 44-33 lead into the halftime break.
Robinson sunk a layup on the Belles' first possession of the second period to once again make it a nine-point contest at 44-35, but a made three-pointer by North Central on their ensuing possession pushed the lead back to double digits for good.
Saint Mary's out-scored North Central by a 60-32 margin in the paint while the Cardinals held a 38-20 edge in points off of turnovers.
Ariana Paul led all players in the game with 20 points and 20 rebounds to match her career-high total from two seasons ago. Krista Knapke added a double-double of her own with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Gabby Diamond posted a season-high 13 points, and Eleni Shea chipped in 11 points. Maddie Kohler led all players in the game with five assists.
The Belles (0-3) are back on the court tomorrow when they take on Trinity International at noon Central Standard Time at day two of North Central's Chicago Marriott Naperville Tip-Off Tournament.