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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Belles fall to Trine in season finale

Despite 15 points from senior guard Maddie Rzepka, the Saint Mary’s Belles couldn’t pull off a shocker to end their season, losing 85-49 to nationally-ranked Trine. The Thunder are currently tied for the first in the MIAA; the Belles sit at seventh. They finished their season with a 4-12 conference record, going 7-18 overall. The latter mark represented a small improvement on last year’s 6-20 mark. 

Junior guard Athena Samson also stood out for the Belles on Wednesday night, collecting 10 rebounds and nine points. Freshman guard Nicole Connolly added nine points and a pair of steals off the bench. Despite the strong individual performances, however, Saint Mary’s couldn’t match Trine’s firepower. The Thunder’s Sidney Wagner led all scorers with 23 points and Trine’s bench scored 44 points, sparked by 14 from Abby Sanner.

Saint Mary’s got off to a quick start, stifling Trine for the first three minutes and taking a 5-4 lead on a three-pointer from sophomore guard Julia Schutz. But over the final six minutes and 59 seconds of the first quarter, the Belles managed just a single free throw. That free throw actually extended the Saint Mary’s lead to 6-4 with four minutes and 33 seconds left. But after six minutes of stifling defense from the Belles, the floodgates opened. Trine flexed their muscles, ripping off a 13-0 run to seize control of the game.

That momentum carried to the second quarter, as Trine scored 28 points in the frame. Triples from Rzepka and Connolly kept the Belles within striking distance, down 25-16 after five minutes expired in the quarter. An ensuing 13-2 run by Trine buried the Belles in the first half, however, as the Thunder opened up a 38-18 lead. They led 45-23 at the halftime break.

The second half was largely academic. The two squads went back and forth in the third quarter, which Trine was more than happy with, maintaining an advantage of more than 20 points. The Thunder led by 26 at the end of the quarter. In the final quarter of the Belles’ season, they notched 12 points but couldn’t stop Trine’s red-hot offense. Trine shot 55% from the field on the day. The Thunder ballooned their lead to 34 points and saw out their victory. Rzepka notched the final three-pointer of Saint Mary’s season with just under two and a half minutes to play.

The Belles graduate three seniors but return the rest of the roster next season, and they’ll look to improve on their win total again in 2023-24.