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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

SMC BASKETBALL: Belles edge Olivet in final home game

For Emily Creachbaum, Katie Boyce, Deirdre Mangan and Maureen Bush, Saturday marked the last time they would step onto the floor of the Angela Athletic Center in a Saint Mary's basketball uniform.The four seniors, who were honored in a pre-game ceremony, celebrated their last hurrah by leading the Belles to a 69-67 victory over Olivet Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale for both teams.Creachbaum, who is currently third on the Saint Mary's all-time scoring list, will go down as one of the best players in school history. The 6-foot forward has averaged 11.0 points per game during her career."She's the spitting image of consistency," coach Suzanne Bellina said. "She works her tail off, whether it's practice, or shoot-around or the game. You always know she's going to give her all."Saint Mary's (11-14, 6-10 MIAA) finished sixth in the conference and will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., to take on third-seeded Calvin in the first round of the conference tournament. The Belles have never beaten the Knights.For the Comets (7-17, 2-14), the loss represented their 11th in a row and 12th in their last 13 games. Olivet, who finished ninth and last in the MIAA, will play eighth-place Adrian in a play-in game for the conference tournament Monday. The Bulldogs won both regular season meetings.Saturday's game was close from wire to wire, with the Belles maintaining a slim lead for most of the contest until Olivet took a 53-52 lead with a little over six minutes remaining in the game. The Belles regained the advantage on a Bridget Boyce jump shot. The Comets tied the game with a free throw and forced a Belles turnover, but then saw the game unravel. An errant pass ended up in the hands of Belles point guard Katie Boyce, who broke away from the pack and went in for what looked like an uncontested lay-up, but as she went up for the shot she was fouled hard by Olivet guard Amy Brackenwagon. Brackenwagon was called for an intentional foul, giving Saint Mary's two free throws and the ball, and Boyce sank both shots from the line. On the ensuing possession, Belles center Maureen Bush banked in a shot from the baseline to extend the advantage to four points. Out of sudden frustration, Olivet head coach Deanna Richard yelled at the officials and was called for a technical foul. Two Alison Kessler free throws later, the Belles led 60-54 and never looked back.Bellina credited the Belles' ability to make free throws in putting away the Comets."Our team has so much confidence that they will succeed from the free throw line," she said.