Late Comeback Falls Short for Belles at Alma
- Gabby Diamond led the Belles with 15 points and seven rebounds.
- Giavanna Paradiso added 13 points and five rebounds.
- Erin Maloney moved into a tie for fifth all-time in career steals as she reached 196 takeaways for her career with three on the night.
ALMA, Mich. - Megan Saunders and Gabby Crown each drained a three-pointer in the final minute of play to pull the Belles within three points, but the Saint Mary's basketball team fell short in a 58-51 final at Alma on Wednesday evening.
Despite the host Scots hitting a higher percentage of their shots from the floor throughout the first ten minutes of play, the Belles were right in the thick of things on the road. In a back-and-forth quarter, Alma broke a 6-6 tie with consecutive buckets to gain a 10-6 edge with more than six minutes remaining on the clock. Gabby Diamond sunk a shot, and Giavanna Paradiso hit two free throws to send the score to its fourth tie of the period. Both teams had an unyielding possession before Alma regained the lead with a steal and a bucket, but Saint Mary's came right back as Bern McGeever drilled a shot to tie the score at 12-12 with 2:30 on the clock. Alma was quick again to regain the scoring advantage as the Scots put two points on the scoreboard on their next possession. Neither side could get a shot to fall over the final two-plus minutes of the opening stanza as the score stood at 14-12 in favor of Alma after ten minutes of play.
The Scots opened the second quarter on a 13-2 scoring run over the first 4:12 of the period to gain a 27-14 advantage. Megan Saunders had a steal near mid-court and converted the takeaway into a fastbreak layup at the other end. Carin Kaminski added back-to-back jump shots for the Belles, and Paradiso posted a free throw as Saint Mary's cut the deficit to six at 27-21 with 2:44 on the clock. Alma responded with six consecutive points to regain a 35-21 lead, but Gabby Diamond buried a three-pointer from the left corner as time expired to make it 35-24 at the half while giving Saint Mary's some momentum heading into the locker room.
Saint Mary's came out on a mission in the third quarter and went on a 10-0 run over a span of 6:10 to make it a 35-34 game. Caroline Macius, Gabby Diamond, Gabby Crown, Olivia Lathers, and Giavanna Paradiso each tallied a bucket in the scoring run. The Scots got a bucket back with two minutes remaining on the clock, but Erin Maloney drained a three-pointer in front of the Saint Mary's bench to knot the score at 39-39 with 1:35 remaining in the period. The Belles had an opportunity to take their first lead of the game since the opening minutes of the contest, but a pair of shots were off the mark in the closing minute of the quarter. Alma, however, did get a layup to fall with eight seconds remaining to hold a 41-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Alma used a 7-0 run over the opening 5:05 of the fourth quarter to gain a 48-39 advantage as the Belles could not get the ball to bounce their way. The game was far from decided as Saint Mary's continued to fight. With the deficit again at eight points at 51-43 with 1:50 remaining, Giavanna Paradiso hit a jumper to pull the Belles within six. The Scots hit one of two free throws, and Megan Saunders drained a big three-pointer from the right side of the floor to make it a 52-48 score with just under a minute to go. The Belles were whistled for a foul, and Alma converted both attempts with 44 seconds to play. Gabby Crown then added a big three-pointer of her own to pull Saint Mary's within three points at 54-51 with 33 seconds on the clock. Alma made just one free throw, but the next three-point attempt was off the mark for the Belles. The Scots then tallied a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining and extended the lead with another free throw with seven seconds on the clock as Saint Mary's was unable to get an answer to fall on offense late in the game in the 58-51 final.
The host Scots hit 42.6 percent (20-of-47) of their shots from the floor and were 17-of-26 (65.4 percent) from the free throw line. The Belles connected on 35.0 percent (21-of-60) of their attempts from the floor and were 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) from the charity stripe.
Gabby Diamond led the Belles with 15 points and seven rebounds. Giavanna Paradiso added 13 points and five rebounds. Megan Saunders and Gabby Crown each chipped in five points, and Carin Kaminski tallied four points. Erin Maloney moved into a tie for fifth all-time in career steals as she reached 196 takeaways for her career with three on the night.
The Belles (6-18, 3-12 MIAA) close out the season on Saturday when they travel to Albion for a 3:00 p.m. contest against the Brits.