Upset Effort Ends Short for Belles Against No. 20 Knights
- Eleni Shea scored a career-high 24 points, made all 10 free throws, and pulled down 10 rebounds.
- Sarah Macius added 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
- Erin Maloney had a season-best eight assists to go along with four steals.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team fell behind early and could not overcome the deficit despite a mid-game run in an 81-57 final against No. 20 ranked Calvin.
Despite getting good looks at the basket after successfully breaking the Knights' full-court press, the Belles had a tough time getting those shots to fall during the opening four minutes of play. That early dry spell allowed Calvin to start the game on a 9-0 run with just over six minutes remaining in the opening period. Eleni Shea was able to get the Belles on the scoreboard with a layup as the clock hit 5:53, but the Knights countered with a three-pointer at the other end to make it an 11-2 game. Trailing 17-4 with 4:28 left in the first quarter, the Belles rattled off seven consecutive points - all by Shea - to make it 17-11. Four quick points for the Knights pushed the lead back to double digits with under a minute remaining at 21-11. Sarah Macius gave the Belles some momentum heading into the second quarter as the senior hit a running jump shot just before the buzzer to make it 21-13 at the first break.
Calvin hit a second-chance layup on their opening possession of the second quarter, but Krista Knapke got a layup of her own to fall to keep the Belles within striking distance at 23-15. The Knights again pulled ahead by double digits at 25-15 with 9:25 on the clock, but things were far from decided with most of the game still to go. Neither team was able to get a fortunate bounce on offense for the next two-plus minutes of play as the Belles held their own with the conference's second-highest scoring offense. The Knights were able to push their lead to 14 at 33-19 after both teams were able to generate points, but Macius hit a jump shot, Gabby Crown sunk a three-pointer, and Macius added another jumper to make it a 33-26 game with 53 seconds to go before halftime. A three-pointer and a free throw after a foul in the final second of the half by the Knights, however, pushed the score to 37-26 at halftime.
The Knights took a 16-point lead twice in the third quarter at 47-31 and 49-33, but the Belles once again came back to stay competitive with nationally-ranked Calvin. Maddie Kohler hit a three-pointer, Shea continued to get shots to fall and connect on free throws, and Macius could barely miss as Saint Mary's pulled within nine points at 55-46 with 1:21 remaining in the third period. Neither team was able to get points over the final minute of play as the Belles defense clamped down in the final seconds of the period to prevent the Knights from getting off a shot.
Just over a minute into the final period, Knapke added another layup to make it a 57-48 game. The Knights, however, pulled away for good with a 15-0 run as Calvin was able to get their shots to fall while the Belles could not catch a fortunate bounce off the rim the other way. Saint Mary's continued to battle until the final buzzer as Macius and Kelsey Ronan each hit three-pointers in the final minute of play, but the upset was not to be for the Belles in the 81-57 final.
Calvin had a 38-34 edge in rebounds while outscoring Saint Mary's 34-16 in the paint and 23-14 in points off of turnovers. The Belles were more successful at the free throw line (83.3 percent) than the Knights (52.9 percent) while pulling down 25 defensive rebounds to the Knights' 24.
Eleni Shea pulled down 10 rebounds and scored a career-high 24 points, including a 10-of-10 effort from the free throw line, to lead all players in the contest. Sarah Macius hit six of her eight shots in the game for 13 points. Erin Maloney picked up a season-high eight assists to go along with four steals. Maddie Kohler and Krista Knapke each scored six points for the Belles. Additionally, Knapke moved into sixth place all-time in career rebounds by surpassing Jennie Taubenheim's mark of 625 boards.
The Belles (1-18, 1-9 MIAA) travel to Alma on Saturday, January 30 for a 1:00 p.m. contest against the Scots.