Saint Mary's clinched an MIAA playoff spot Wednesday night with a dominant 68-43 victory over visiting Adrian.
The Belles (12-11, 8-6 MIAA) were the superior team throughout the contest, shooting exactly 50 percent from the field for the game, as well as an impressive 60 percent from beyond the three-point line.
"We did a great job of working our offense deep into the shot clock tonight," Belles coach Jenn Henley said. "[This forced] Adrian to play defense a lot longer."
On the other side of the ball, Saint Mary's played stifling defense, holding Adrian (9-12, 5-9) to just 33 percent shooting as the Belles led by double digits for the majority of the game.
Saint Mary's started off strong, taking a 10-point advantage on a three-pointer from senior guard Patsy Mahoney only 5:14 into the contest.
Adrian fought back to cut the Belles lead to just five points on a fast break lay-up with 8:24 left in the first half.
This was as close as the Bulldogs would get for the rest of the game, as Saint Mary's closed the half on a 17-11 run to take an 11-point lead into the halftime locker room.
Adrian was able to keep the deficit the same for the start of the second half, down by 11 with 13:31 left in the game.
From then on, the game was all Saint Mary's. The Belles closed the game on a 25-11 run, fueled by the strong play of their seniors as well as a stifling defense.
"I thought we played pretty good defense in the second half," Henley said. "We forced a lot of turnovers and got some easy transition points because of our defense."
Senior forward Kelley Murphy led Saint Mary's in scoring with 20 points, adding eight rebounds. Senior forward Jessica Centa added 12 points, and current MIAA Player of the Week Mahoney finished with nine points, five assists and four rebounds.
Though the team had just scored a big victory, Henley still found an area her team could improve on after they were out-rebounded by Adrian.
"We need to do a better job still of getting on the boards as we prepare to play Calvin next week," Henley said.
Saint Mary's is next in action Wednesday, as they travel to conference foe Calvin.
Contact Nick Boyle at email@example.com