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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Belles hang with Calvin for third quarters in loss

Saint Mary’s took one on the chin in a tough 81-57 loss to Calvin in Wednesday night’s game at Angela Athletic Facility.

Calvin (14-4, 9-1 MIAA) controlled the game from the beginning, jumping out to a 17-4 lead six minutes in to the first quarter. However, Saint Mary’s (1-18, 1-9) did make a run of its own as the quarter closed, including a buzzer beater from senior guard Sarah Macius to cut the score to 21-13.

Calvin would reclaim its large lead with a 7-2 run to start the second quarter as the Knights continued to give Saint Mary’s problems on inbounds with their full court press en route to building a 37-26 halftime lead.

Coming out of the break, Saint Mary’s did its best to cut into that Calvin lead. Despite the Belles’ struggles, it was only a 55-46 Calvin lead heading into the fourth. But the Belles continued to face relentless full court pressure, a strategy that finally paid off for Calvin as they jumped out to a 20-point lead with six minutes remaining in the game, many of those points coming off turnovers.

Saint Mary’s head coach Jennifer Henley said she recognized that No. 20 Calvin is a good team, but she still felt her team gave them too much in the contest.

“I thought we held our own for the first three quarters," she said. "Unfortunately we had lot of unforced turnovers, and you have to give Calvin credit, they didn’t just fall into their ranking, but I think we gave them a little too much and we panicked with the ball a little too much.”

However, Henley pointed to some positives for the Belles to takeaway from the game.

“I think that we shared the ball well and we got some good looks,” Henley said. “Now I know we have to finish those, but for the most part we gave ourselves a shot offensively. On the defensive side, we had some good box-outs at times, and we had some pretty good help-side defense. However, it just wasn’t enough for four quarters.”

While the game did not turn out in Saint Mary’s favor, one in particular bright spot was senior foward Eleni Shea. Shea went 7-for-13 from the field in addition to a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line to net a game-high 24 points. The team will hope for more of that as they head into their next game Sunday at Alma.

“This is a team we’ve beaten, so we’re really looking forward to that game,” Henley said. “It’s the second round of conference play and time is running out for these seniors, so our mentality is to go up there and take care of business.”

Saint Mary’s and Alma will square off Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Art Smith Arena in Alma, Michigan.