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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Belles pull away late, knock off Hornets

The Saint Mary’s Belles used a late 12-1 spurt to pull away from the still-winless Kalamazoo Hornets, improving to 4-8 in MIAA play with a 61-52 victory. Sophomore forward Julia Schutz led the way with a 20-point, eight-rebound effort. Senior guard Maddie Rzepka chipped in 11 points, and sophomore guard Jasmyne Townsend notched 13 off the bench. 

It was a slow offensive start for both teams, with the Belles not getting anything through the hoop until nearly three minutes expired on the game clock. Townsend hit a jumper with 4:50 left in the quarter to give Saint Mary’s a 8-7 lead. However, a drought lasting three minutes and 29 seconds ensued, and the Belles surrendered seven straight points. They trailed at the quarter break, 16-12. 

Belles junior guard Christina Shadid dribbles up the court during Saint Mary's 106-57 defeat to Holy Cross on Dec. 6.

Saint Mary’s again struggled to warm up their shooting in the second quarter. The Hornets scored the first four of the period. Between the end of the first and the beginning of the second quarter, the Belles went another 3:11 without scoring a bucket. Thankfully, strong defense kept them in the contest, as Kalamazoo opened a lead of just eight points, at 20-12. Junior forward Athena Samson led the defensive party with three blocks. Schutz and Samson combined for 13 defensive rebounds. Off the bench, junior forward Anne Goralczyk added seven defensive rebounds and a pair of steals. 

The Belles didn’t exactly catch fire offensively, but their impressive defense turned it up a notch. They held the Hornets scoreless for four minutes and 56 seconds of game time. The stretch allowed Saint Mary’s to claw their way back into the game, slowly executing a 10-0 run that pushed them into the lead. Schutz drilled the Belles’ first and only triple of the half to earn a 25-22 advantage, a lead that the visitors maintained the locker room, going up 27-24 at the break. 

Another triple, this one just under four minutes into the third quarter from Townsend, threatened to blow the game wide open. The bucket extended Saint Mary’s lead to 36-27. They extended their largest advantage of the night to 12 points on a Schutz three-point play. On the night, Kalamazoo shot just 10% (1-10) from three-point range, and they struggled to maintain extended stretches of cohesive offensive basketball. While a 12-point lead looked to have the Belles in good position, they again went freezing cold on the offensive side of the court. They didn’t score in the final three minutes and seven seconds of the quarter, allowing the Hornets to creep within three at 43-40. 

The Belles’ scoring drought continued into the fourth quarter, and the 12-point advantage officially evaporated. With 8:42 to play, the Hornets connected on a jumper to surge back into the lead, 44-43. With 5:25 to go, Kalamazoo drilled their lone three-pointer to go up four points, 51-47. 

However, the Hornets tacked on just one free throw the rest of the way. Rzepka tied the game on a layup and pushed the Belles ahead 54-51, draining her sole triple of the evening. Saint Mary’s closed strong, hitting nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win, boxing the Hornets out of any comeback attempt. They prevailed, 61-52, keeping hopes of a winning conference record alive.