Early Drought Sets Belles Back Against Fourth-Ranked Hope
- Krista Knapke had her fifth double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
- Maddie Kohler scored 13 points with a career-high seven rebounds.
- Eleni Shea added 11 points.
HOLLAND, Mich. - It was a tale of two different halves for the Saint Mary's basketball team on Saturday against nationally-ranked Hope. The Belles trailed the Flying Dutch 55-17 at the half before outscoring Hope over the final 20 minutes of play in a 95-58 loss.
The Flying Dutch opened the game on a 16-0 run as a combination of turnovers and unlucky bounces off the rim kept the Belles off the scoreboard through the opening 7:39 of play. Krista Knapke broke through for the first bucket of the game for Saint Mary's with 2:21 on the clock. A minute and a half later, Gabby Crown played a perfect pass in to Kelsey Ronan on an inbounds play for an easy layup by the junior forward as the Belles faced a 21-4 deficit at the end of the first period.
The Belles were able to find more success on the offensive end of the floor in the second quarter, but the Flying Dutch took their largest lead of the opening half of play at 51-15 with 1:55 on the clock. Kelsey Ronan hit a jump shot on the next possession before Hope posted a pair of buckets late to make it a 55-17 game at the half.
After the halftime break, the Belles came out and played point-for-point with the fourth-ranked Hope side. Each of the Belles' starting five players scored in the third quarter, led by Krista Knapke's eight points and Maddie Kohler's five points. Saint Mary's had two late looks at the basket to try to edge Hope in the scoring column for the third period, but both shots were off the mark as the Belles hung right with the Flying Dutch in a 21-20 third quarter.
Over the final ten minutes of play, the Belles held the upper hand in scoring by a 21-19 margin. Saint Mary's opened the quarter by scoring on three of their first five possessions to make it 81-43 with 8:02 on the clock. On the defensive end, the Belles held the Flying Dutch without a point for a span of 3:20. During that same stretch, Kelsey Ronan, Eleni Shea, Krista Knapke, and Maddie Kohler all hit shots to make it a 93-56 game with under two minutes left to play. Each team scored just once down the stretch - including a jump shot by Caroline Macius - for the 95-58 final.
Saint Mary's hit 51.6 percent (16-of-31) of their shots from the floor over the final 20 minutes of play while limiting Hope to a 42.1 percent (16-of-38) field goal percentage during the third and fourth quarters. The Belles also made more free throws (13) than the Flying Dutch attempted (12).
Krista Knapke led the Belles with 17 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Maddie Kohler added 13 points and a career-high seven rebounds. Eleni Shea chipped in 11 points, and Kelsey Ronan scored nine points with seven rebounds on the afternoon.
The Belles (1-21, 1-12 MIAA) return home to host Adrian on Wednesday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. It will also be the team's Pink Night Game, which will raise awareness and funds for the Angel Wings Fund.