Belles Outshot by Fourth-Ranked Flying Dutch
- Gabby Diamond scored a career-high 16 points to lead the Belles.
- Maddie Kohler added a career-best seven assists.
- Eleni Shea chipped in 14 points, and Krista Knapke pulled down 10 rebounds.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Host Saint Mary's took just six fewer shots in the game while nearly making more free throws (12) than Hope attempted (13), but the fourth-ranked Flying Dutch used a 53.6 percent shooting performance while limiting the Belles to a 31.7 percent effort to claim a 93-53 decision on Wednesday night.
The Belles and the Flying Dutch were neck and neck through much of the first quarter of play. Eleni Shea scored the game's first points, and Kelsey Ronan added a layup to give the Belles a 4-3 lead through two minutes of play. After a layup by the Flying Dutch, Shea added a layup of her own for the 6-5 Saint Mary's lead with 6:40 left on the clock. Hope regained the lead on the next possession with a three-pointer, but the momentum was still up for grabs as neither team had much luck stringing shots together over the next three minutes. The Flying Dutch went up 11-6 with 3:49 left in the first period, but Eleni Shea hit the tail end of two shots from the charity stripe to make it 11-7 with 3:32 remaining. Seven consecutive points by Hope, however, made it an 18-7 score with just over a minute left in the first quarter. Maddie Kohler stopped the run with a three-pointer on the Belles' next possession to push the score to 18-10, which is how it stood at the end of the first 10 minutes.
The Flying Dutch opened up the second quarter with a 10-2 scoring spurt to establish a 28-12 lead with under six minutes remaining on the clock. Gabby Diamond provided an offensive spark for the Belles and registered the team's first eight points of the period. The final four of those eight points came on back-to-back possessions in the waning minutes of the period as the Belles edged within 12 points at 30-18 with 3:34 on the clock. Hope hit a layup on a second-chance effort, but Eleni Shea sunk two free throws to continue to keep the Belles within striking distance. Over the next two minutes, Hope could not miss from the floor while Saint Mary's could not get a bounce to get a shot to go in as the Flying Dutch ballooned their lead to 40-20 with 1:06 left on the clock. Aspen Davis and Krista Knapke each hit a shot in the final minute of the quarter, but the Flying Dutch took a 45-24 lead into the halftime break.
The Belles and the Flying Dutch nearly matched the other team's efforts for the opening five minutes of the third quarter. Saint Mary's used some solid defense and strong rebounding to post a 7-0 run in the span of two minutes midway through the quarter. Kelsey Ronan and Gabby Diamond were responsible for all seven points while Shea and Kohler each came up with a steal as the Belles made it a 56-39 game with 3:49 to go in the third. Unfortunately for the Belles, that hot streak was followed by a tough shooting stretch to end the period as Hope scored on their final five possessions of the quarter for a 72-41 lead heading into the fourth.
Hope continued to find ways to keep their offense going while Saint Mary's was held to their second-lowest scoring quarter of the game in the fourth period as the Flying Dutch held a 21-12 scoring margin over the final ten minutes of play for the 93-53 final.
Gabby Diamond scored a career-high 16 points, and Maddie Kohler added a career-best seven assists to help lead the Belles. Eleni Shea chipped in 14 points with four assists. Krista Knapke led Saint Mary's with 10 rebounds and three steals.
The Belles (1-13, 1-4 MIAA) travel to Adrian on Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. MIAA contest against the Bulldogs.