Belles Hang Tough, Fall to Cardinals
- Krista Knapke scored 18 points to lead the Belles.
- Eleni Shea (13 points), Gabby Diamond (12 points), Maddie Kohler (11 points), and Kelsey Ronan (10 points) all added double-digit points.
- Ronan led the team with eight rebounds.
WESTERVILLE, Ohio - The Saint Mary's basketball team had five players score double-digit points and hit 90 percent of their free throws, but it was not enough as the Belles lost a 78-67 contest at Otterbein on Monday.
Midway through the first quarter, Kelsey Ronan hit a jump shot to put the Belles up 8-7 before Krista Knapke made it a 10-7 score two minutes later with a jump shot to keep Saint Mary's ahead. Knapke drained a response bucket with less than two minutes left on the clock as the Belles maintained the lead late in the period. Eleni Shea continued to hold the momentum for Saint Mary's with a pair of free throws to make it 14-11 with 1:08 before the first break, but a layup and a three-pointer in the final minute by the Cardinals gave Otterbein the 16-14 lead at the end of 10 minutes of play.
Knapke knocked down a shot early in the second quarter to tie things up at 16-16, but six consecutive points by the Cardinals made it a 22-16 game with over eight minutes left on the clock. The Belles slashed the deficit quickly with a pair of shots in the paint. Otterbein continued to hold onto the lead, however, while pushing their advantage to seven points at 29-22 with 4:41 to go until halftime. Saint Mary's again stormed right back with five consecutive points by Shea to edge within 29-27. The Cardinals closed out the opening half with 10 of the next 13 points to hold a 39-20 lead at intermission.
Otterbein opened up the third quarter by extending their lead to 16 points at 51-35 with 6:06 on the clock, but the Belles continued to show their determination and fought their way right back into contention with a 14-4 run over the final six minutes of the quarter to make it 55-49. During that run, Saint Mary's went 8-of-8 from the free throw line to go along with three close-range shots. On the other end of the floor, the Belles held the Cardinals to a 2-of-9 shooting effort from the floor and did not concede an offensive rebound to host Otterbein throughout the entire third quarter.
The Cardinals, however, started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 spurt to regain a double-digit lead less than two minutes into the period. Saint Mary's stayed close down the stretch and made it a two-possession game at 69-63 with 3:04 to go after good shots in the paint by Erin Maloney and Knapke. The Belles were unable to get any closer than six points to the Cardinals as Otterbein claimed the 78-67 decision.
Saint Mary's hit 18 of their 20 free throw attempts (90.0 percent) while outscoring the Cardinals 17-8 on second chance buckets after edging Otterbein 14-9 in offensive rebounds.
Krista Knapke led the Belles with 18 points on a 9-of-14 shooting effort from the floor. Eleni Shea was a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe on her way to 13 points. Gabby Diamond matched her season-high with 12 points. Maddie Kohler chipped in 11 points while hitting all six of her free throw attempts. Kelsey Ronan added 10 points and a team-best eight rebounds.
The Belles (1-11) face off against North Central on day two of Otterbein's Smokey Ballenger Classic at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.