Comeback Runs Out of Time for Belles at Alma
- Eleni Shea scored a game-best 19 points.
- Maddie Kohler added a career-high 17 points.
- Krista Knapke chipped in 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
ALMA, Mich. - Trailing by 18 points early in the fourth quarter, the Saint Mary's basketball team pulled within two points with two minutes remaining but were unable to overtake Alma down the stretch in a 72-65 final on Saturday.
Stingy defense paired with success on the offensive end of the floor for the Belles translated into a 13-6 lead for Saint Mary's as the clock moved below four minutes in the first period. Krista Knapke, Erin Maloney, and Eleni Shea all contributed in the scoring column for the Belles. Over the final three minutes of the quarter, however, the Scots picked up five points while Saint Mary's was unable to get a shot to fall. Neither team scored over the final minute and a half of the period as the score stood at 13-11 in favor of the Belles heading into the second 10 minutes of play.
Alma took over the lead with a three-pointer at 16-15, but Shea quickly put the Belles back on top with a three-point play. The Scots knotted the score at 18-18 before Maloney and Kohler provided a one-two scoring combination to make it 22-18 in favor of Saint Mary's with 7:12 left before halftime. The two sides battled for the lead throughout the remainder of the quarter as neither team was able to establish larger than a three-point advantage over the last five minutes of the quarter. Maddie Kohler tied the game at 32-32 with a pair of free throws on the Belles' final possession of the period, and Kelsey Ronan blocked the Scots' attempt at a late go-ahead basket as the score stood at 32-32 at the half.
The host Scots opened the third quarter on a 13-3 run over the five five minutes of the period. Shea sunk a pair of free throws to make it an eight-point game at 45-37, but Alma regained a double-digit lead while the Belles could not catch a fortunate bounce offensively. The Scots added two layups in the final 1:04 to push their advantage to 58-41 heading into the final quarter.
A three-pointer by Alma gave the Scots the largest lead of the game at 63-45 with 8:43 on the clock in the fourth, but the Belles came storming right back into the thick of things. Maddie Kohler drained a three-pointer, and Eleni Shea, Kelsey Ronan, and Krista Knapke all hit layups to cut the lead in half at 63-45 in just a 2:38 span of play. The Scots made a pair of free throws, but Ronan added another layup and Kohler sunk another three-pointer to make it 65-59 with over four minutes remaining. The Belles hit the glass hard and turned a pair of defensive stops into points at the other end. Eleni Shea made both buckets for the Belles during that stretch to cut the deficit to two points at 65-63 with 2:02 to go. Alma, however, put a stop to the run with back-to-back three-pointers to make it a 71-63 game. Kohler added to a career-high scoring day with a layup to get Saint Mary's back within six points with 50 seconds remaining, but the Belles came up empty-handed on their final four shots of the game to suffer the 72-65 loss.
The Belles made more free throws (16) than the Scots attempted (15) while out-rebounding Alma 35-33 in the contest.
Eleni Shea led all players with 19 points. Maddie Kohler scored a career-high 17 points. Krista Knapke chipped in 17 points and had a game-high eight rebounds. Erin Maloney added a game-best six assists to go along with seven points.
The Belles (1-19, 1-10 MIAA) return home on Wednesday, February 3 to host in-state rival Trine at 7:30 p.m.