Belles Bitten by Bearcats
HOLLAND, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team ended on the short side of a 93-60 final against Saint Vincent (Pa.) in the consolation game of the Hope Post Exam Jam on Saturday afternoon.
The teams were evenly matched from the opening whistle as the Bearcats and Belles traded blows for the first four-and-a-half minutes. Eleni Shea and Ariana Paul put the Belles on the scoreboard first with back-to-back buckets in the opening 1:26 of action. After Saint Vincent hit a three-pointer, Saint Mary's came right back with a good jump shot in the paint by Krista Knapke to maintain the early lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Bearcats hit their second three to knot the game at 6-6 at 17:32. The game remained at 6-6 for more than a minute of action until Saint Vincent hit a jump shot with 16:19 on the clock to claim their first lead of the game. Maddie Kohler and Knapke had a response for the Belles on the other end of the floor as the Kohler hit Knapke for an open jumper to tie the game back up at 8-8.
The Bearcats regained the lead on their next possession with a three-pointer and pushed their advantage to five points with a jump shot in the lane for the 13-8 lead five minutes into the game. Timoney Moyer and Maddie Kohler both got into dangerous territory and hit shots in the lane to keep the Belles within striking distance while trailing 13-10 and 15-12, respectively.
Saint Vincent was able to keep the edge in the scoring column, but Saint Mary's came right back against the Bearcats over the next five minutes as the Saint Vincent lead was not greater than a two-possession cushion throughout much of the first half.
Knapke pulled the Belles within three points at 23-20 with a layup off of a bounce pass by Kelsey Ronan with just over eight minutes left on the clock. The Belles, however, were limited to just four field goals and a pair of free throws over the final eight minutes of the half while the Bearcats tallied 10 field goals and a pair of free throws to take a 48-32 lead into the half.
After the break, the teams opened the second half much the same way they started the game as the Bearcats and the Belles traded buckets back-and-forth over the opening five minutes of play.
Eleni Shea hit the front end of a pair of free throws with 14:18 on the clock to make it a 59-41 contest. The Bearcats, however, distanced themselves for good with 12-4 spurt for a 26-point lead at 71-54 with 10:42 to go.
Over the final ten minutes of play, Saint Vincent held at least a 27-point advantage over the Belles on the way to the 93-60 final.
For the Belles, it was the fifth game of the season that Saint Mary's hit at least 40 percent of the shot they took in the game by converting 25-of-59 field goal attempts on the afternoon. The Bearcats, meanwhile, were 34-of-65 from the floor, including a 15-of-30 effort from behind the arc in the contest.
Krista Knapke, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the Belles with 17 points and added six rebounds and a pair of assists. Ariana Paul posted 14 points, and Kelsey Ronan added eight points and shared game-high honors with seven rebounds.
The Belles (3-6) have a break from play until the end of finals week, which begins on Monday. Saint Mary's returns home to host Millikin on Friday, December 19 for an 8:30 p.m. contest against the Big Blue.