Before the Saint Mary’s Belles battled the Alma Scots on the hardwood last Saturday at the Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex, head coach Melissa Makielski presided over a celebration of athletic and academic success spanning the last four years.
One at a time, seniors Elle Deardorff, Nyah Porter, Mary Kate Gareau and Athena Samson proudly marched out to half-court, arms linked with beloved family members. Adorned with bright smiles and bouquets of white daisies and purple tulips, the class of 2024 seniors received recognition for their commitment to the program and maintaining its values before the last home basketball game of their careers.
Capitalizing on the emotional high of the pre-game ceremony, Deardorff hit a three at the top of the key right after the opening tip to energize the crowd and build early momentum. Known for playing up-tempo and aggressive on the fastbreak, the Scots responded with a flurry of quick baskets off of Saint Mary’s turnovers and missed shots. Alma’s Taylor Sas excelled in driving coast-to-coast in transition, leading all players in points (20) and finishing tied for first on the Scots in rebounds (9).
Though the Belles went on to struggle from three-point range, finishing the game 3-17, they found success attacking the paint and drawing fouls. Two successive makes from freshman Avery Schiesser at the charity stripe helped Saint Mary’s end the first quarter trailing 23-20.
Throughout the second half, the Belles and Scots traded baskets, with a Deardorff triple tying the score at 25. The Belles then suffered a prolonged scoring drought, tallying only two points in nearly seven minutes as Alma jumped out to a 37-27 lead.
Strong playmaking from freshman Annie Restovich broke the Belles out of their shooting slump, finding junior guard Lauren Gumma and Samson for easy, open jumpers. At the half, Alma led Saint Mary’s 40-33.
The Belles continued to feed the hot hand of Kate Restovich in the second half, nabbing a quick steal-and-score before hitting a contested three-pointer to cut the deficit to just three, 45-42.
Unfortunately, St. Mary’s offense went cold again, with Sas’ scoring prowess and Molly Deurloo’s dominating two-way interior presence catapulting the Scots to a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Despite Deardorff and Restovich’s best efforts, tallying 18 and 17 points respectively, the Belles were unable to bounce back from a disappointing third quarter, falling to Alma 78-63. Inefficient scoring once again proved to be the team’s downfall, finishing the game 22-66 (33%) from the field.
The Belles look to snap their seven-game losing streak on the road against Albion College (16-8, 10-5 MIAA) on Wednesday, Feb. 14.