Fourth-Quarter Comeback Falls Short for Belles Against Brits
- Gabby Diamond led Saint Mary's with 12 points.
- Eleni Shea (10 points), Maddie Kohler (nine points), and Kelsey Ronan (eight points) all made strong scoring contributions.
- Krista Knapke led all players with six assists.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Belles opened up the fourth period on a 10-0 run to pull within three points of visiting Albion, but the comeback was not to be as the Saint Mary's basketball team fell by a 62-54 final on Wednesday night.
The first quarter saw the Belles in the driver's seat for much of the opening 10 minutes of action. After a three-point play by Albion gave the Brits a 5-4 lead, the Belles rattled off the next seven points to claim an 11-5 advantage. During that spurt, Maddie Kohler ignited the offense with a three-pointer while Kelsey Ronan drained consecutive buckets. Albion made it 11-9 a minute and a half later, but Gabby Diamond and Krista Knapke pushed the Belles back ahead by six points at 15-9 with 3:04 left on the clock. Saint Mary's continued to lead until the closing seconds of the quarter. Albion hit the front end of a double-bonus situation at the free throw line and then got the offensive rebound and put-back layup after the second attempt with three seconds on the clock for a 16-15 lead at the first break.
A layup by the Brits to open the scoring in the second quarter made it 18-15, but Sarah Macius sunk a three-pointer to knot the score at 18-18. Neither team was able to get more than a two-point lead over the final nine minutes of the quarter. The score was tied seven different times and the lead changed hands twice as the teams traded blows back and forth. The sides posted matching shooting percentages (46.7 percent) for the quarter on 7-of-15 shooting, but the three-pointer by Macius was the difference in the scoring column as the teams went to the halftime break tied at 30-30.
As "on" as both teams were during the second quarter, the Belles and the Brits both struggled to get their offenses up and running to open the third period. Krista Knapke put down a layup a minute and a half into the quarter for a 32-30 Saint Mary's lead. Albion drew even a minute later with a layup of their own, and the Brits pulled ahead with a three-pointer with 6:45 on the clock. Eleni Shea and Gabby Diamond added layups a few minutes later to put Saint Mary's within a point of Albion at 35-34 and 37-36. Albion, however, capitalized on a cold spell by the Belles and used a 14-0 run over the final 4:16 of the quarter to go ahead 51-36.
The Belles were resilient in their efforts and stormed right back into the game. It was all Saint Mary's during the first four minutes of the fourth quarter as the Belles used a 10-0 run to make it 51-48 with 5:48 left in the period. Saint Mary's scored on six of their first seven possessions of the quarter while not surrendering a single rebound. Neither team was able to get a lot of offense in a timely manner over the final five minutes of play as the final decision remained up in the air. Albion hit a pair of free throws with 4:17 to go and added a layup with 2:30 on the clock for a 55-48 lead, but Maddie Kohler cut through the lane and sunk a layup with 1:37 remaining to keep the Belles' hopes alive. Fouls mounted up against the Belles late in the game, and the Brits continued to capitalize on the bonus chances as Albion put in five of six attempts during the final 1:19 of play to keep the Saint Mary's comeback at bay.
Saint Mary's hit 40.7 percent (24-of-59) of their shots from the floor while Albion posted a 37.3 field goal percentage (22-of-59). The Brits held a 44-32 edge in rebounds on the night. Free throws were a big difference in the contest as the visiting Brits were 16-of-22 from the charity stripe while the Belles were 4-of-4 in the game. All four free throw attempts for the Saint Mary's came in the final minute of play.
Gabby Diamond led Saint Mary's with 12 points, and Eleni Shea added 10 points and three steals. Maddie Kohler chipped in nine points while Kelsey Ronan notched eight points. Krista Knapke had a game-high six assists to go along with six points and six rebounds.
The Belles (1-16, 1-7 MIAA) begin the second round of conference competition when they host Olivet on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.