Historic Milestone Night Not Enough for Belles Against Thunder
- Krista Knapke and Eleni Shea became the first Belles to reach 1,000 career points in the same game.
- Shea led all players with 20 points, and Knapke added nine points.
- Kelsey Ronan chipped in eight points.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the first time in program history, two teammates scored their 1,000th career point in the same game for the Saint Mary's basketball team. Krista Knapke and Eleni Shea both hit the 1,000 career point plateau in the fourth quarter, but the Belles could not overcome the deficit down the stretch in a 68-51 final against Trine.
Visiting Trine jumped out to a 7-0 lead through the first minute and a half of play, but the Belles came right back and tied the game at 9-9 with just under five minutes left on the clock. Krista Knapke, Eleni Shea, and Erin Maloney all helped to spur the offense into action. The Thunder reclaimed the lead with buckets on their next two possessions, but Maloney sunk a jumper to keep the Belles within striking distance at 13-11. As the clock moved below the two-minute mark, Caroline Macius threaded a backdoor pass to Eleni Shea for the open shot to again put Saint Mary's within two points of Trine at 15-13. The Thunder pushed their lead to five with 20 seconds left on the clock, but the Belles answered again with a second-chance layup by Knapke before the buzzer to make it a 19-16 game going into the second quarter.
The second quarter continued to be a score-and-answer ebb and flow of play as both teams found offense while not allowing the other side to go on a game-changing run. The Thunder pulled ahead by 10 points at 28-18, but Aspen Davis hit a mid-range jumper and Shea tallied a layup to make it a six-point game at 28-22 with 5:46 to go. Trine went up by 10 points on two more occasions in the quarter, but each time, the Belles countered with a bucket at the other end. The Thunder had a look at regaining a double-digit lead at the end of the quarter, but the Belles defense prevented a last-second shot as the score stood at 34-26 at the break.
The third period saw both sides run into trouble getting baskets to fall despite good looks on offense. The Belles and the Thunder each hit 4-of-12 shots from the floor during the 10-minute quarter. Trine, however, was able to connect on five of their six free throw attempts while Saint Mary's made one of two shots from the charity stripe. That four-point difference during the quarter meant the Thunder went into the final stanza with a 47-35 lead.
With both Shea and Knapke within reach of their 1,000th career points, the Belles worked an inside-outside passing offense to keep the ball moving and the options free for scoring. That combination of passing led to Knapke picking up an offensive board on a shot from the perimeter. The senior had an immediate put-back layup and scored on the chance to surpass 1,000 career points with 7:34 left on the clock as the Belles tried to fight their way back into things. Maddie Kohler found Shea open for a jump shot to make it an 11-point game less than a minute later. The Thunder scored just before the shot clock expired at the other end to regain a 13-point lead. Less than two minutes after Knapke's milestone, Shea joined the 1,000 point club after hitting both free throws with 5:38 to go to again pull the Belles within 11 points at 54-43. Trine responded with a layup, but the Belles chipped right back into the deficit with a free throw by Erin Maloney and a three-point play by Shea to make it 56-47 with nearly four minutes remaining in the game. Saint Mary's, however, could not get a shot to fall for the next three-plus minutes of play while Trine extended their lead to 19 points at 66-47 with 1:57 remaining. Maddie Kohler drained a pair of free throws late and Maloney added another mid-range jumper, but the clock ran out on the Belles in a 68-51 setback.
Trine made 48.1 percent (26-of-54) of their shots in the game while the Belles posted a 35.6 shooting percentage (21-of-59) from the floor. Saint Mary's held a 14-8 edge in offensive boards, but the Thunder had the overall advantage in rebounds in the game at 37-34.
Knapke and Shea become the second set of classmates to reach the 1,000 career point club for the Belles. The other pair - Kelley Murphy and Patsy Mahoney, Class of 2012 - hit the milestone in separate seasons to make Knapke and Shea's accomplishment truly unique for the program. The duo are the 12th and 13th players from the Saint Mary's basketball program to reach 1,000 career points.
Eleni Shea led all players in the game with 20 points and four steals while also pulling down six rebounds. Knapke narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds, which moved her into fifth place all-time in career rebounds. Kelsey Ronan chipped in eight points, and Erin Maloney added seven points. Maddie Kohler shared game-high honors with four assists on the night.
The Belles (1-20, 1-11 MIAA) travel to fourth-ranked Hope for a 3:00 p.m. conference game on Saturday, February 6.