Belles Clipped by Hornets
- Krista Knapke led the Belles with 20 points and eight rebounds.
- Eleni Shea added 12 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots.
- Kelsey Ronan dropped in 10 points.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - An early run by host Kalamazoo was too much for the Belles to overcome as the Saint Mary's basketball team suffered a 71-60 loss at the hands of the Hornets on Wednesday night.
Kalamazoo built an 11-2 lead through the first 2:22 of play, but the Belles were undeterred in their comeback effort. Kelsey Ronan and Eleni Shea each scored layups, and Krista Knapke hit a pair of free throws to make it 11-8 with 6:03 remaining in the quarter. Five consecutive points by the Hornets made it an eight-point game at 16-8, but Knapke and Shea put the Belles right back in the thick of things with consecutive buckets for Saint Mary's to make it 16-12. A late jump shot by Kalamazoo, however, pushed the score to 21-14 at the end of the first period.
An opening layup by Knapke in the second quarter again edged the Belles within five points at 21-16, but that is as close as Saint Mary's was able to get to the Hornets during the period. Kalamazoo extended the lead to 12 points twice in the final minute and a half, but Ronan sunk a layup with under a minute remaining and Sarah Macius beat the buzzer with a put-back layup to make it 38-28 at the break.
The buzzer-beater by Macius helped carry momentum over for the Belles to open the third quarter on a tear. Four baskets on the team's first four possessions of the quarter got Saint Mary's right back into the thick of things at 41-36 with 7:47 left on the clock. The Hornets regained a seven-point lead on their next possession, but a layup by Knapke kept it close at 43-38. A minute and a half later, Gabby Diamond came up with a response bucket to push the score to 45-40 and force the Hornets into calling a timeout. After that break, Kalamazoo tallied the next six points of the game, but the Belles refused to stop fighting. Maddie Kohler drained a three-pointer before another Knapke layup put Saint Mary's right back into the game at 51-45 with 2:37 remaining. The Hornets, however, distanced themselves over the closing minutes of the period with an 8-0 run for a 59-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Over the final ten minutes of play, the Belles cut the deficit to nine points twice at 63-54 and 65-56. The comeback, however, was not to be as Saint Mary's suffered the 71-60 loss.
Saint Mary's out-rebounded Kalamazoo 37-34 and held a 36-22 scoring margin in points in the paint, but the Hornets committed four fewer turnovers and out-scored the Belles 19-13 in points off of turnovers.
Krista Knapke led the Belles with 20 points and eight rebounds. Eleni Shea added 12 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots, and two steals. Kelsey Ronan scored 10 points, and Erin Maloney posted six points for the Belles.
The Belles (1-15, 1-6 MIAA) have a bye in their conference schedule and return to the hardwood in a week when they host Albion on January 20 at 7:30 p.m.