Morale boosts Belles to 73-48 win over
By JOE LINDSLEY
After losing four players — including two captains — in just a few weeks, most teams would have trouble coping.
But Saint Mary's was not deterred by the recent loss as the team beat Olivet 73-48 for an MIAA victory Wednesday night at Anglea Athletic Facility.
Morale was boosted by the presence of their former teammates at the game. Kristen Matha, Katie Christensen and Meghan Fitzgearald were all sidelined for the season due to injury, and Mary Campione left the team during the holiday break.
"It's not like the girls have totally left us. Matha sat on the bench with us tonight. Katie and Megan were in the stands. They're still there," said senior forward Anne Blair, who led the Belles with 23 points.
"I thought of it as a new start for our team, because we've had so many hurdles to come over. We stepped it up a lot," said Katie Miller, who posted 19 points for the Belles.
"We have realized that it's hard with out them, but if we stay positive, we can do it. The bench is big," added Miller.
The Belles were expecting a fight from Olivet, especially because of its three-point shooting, but they only allowed Tigers to shoot 15 percent from beyond the arc. In the second half, Olivet shot just 6.3 percent from beyond that arc. In other words, the Tigers scored a single three pointer out of 16 attempts.
"We expected them to be a three point shooting team. We shut them down. That's what we had a focus on," said freshman forward Emily Creachbaum, who had 13 boards.
At the end of the first half, the Belles led by just a point, 27-26. They got off to a slow start at the beginning of game, but as time went on they opened up, started talking, and started scoring more.
During the second half, Saint Mary's focused on driving the ball to the inside, using the Tigers lack of height to its advantage. The Belles only made four three point attempts in the second period after shooting 4-10 from beyond the arc before halftime.
"We knew they didn't have a big starting lineup and that we had to get in the post more. Anne stepped it up a lot in the second half, she was hitting all her shots which was key," Smith said.
Blair was flawless from the free throw line, shooting 5-5. Overall, Saint Mary's shot 87.5 percent from the line — a great improvement from the beginning of the season. Olivet's foul troubles enabled the Belles to shoot 21-23 from the free throw line in the second half.
"We shoot free throws every day. I think people are stepping up to the line more confidently," Creachbaum said.
Louisa Grill of Olivet had the most points of the game, with 28, but the Belles would not let her teammates score, especially in the second half. The Tigers went 9-15 from the field in the first half, but were limited to 12-35 in the second.
"The hustle was there tonight. We really wanted to win, and we needed to win," Miller said.
Saint Mary's faces Adrian on Saturday.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, January 17, 2002