ALBION, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team fell in a tight 67-60 contest at Albion in conference action on Wednesday evening.
After a three-pointer in the first quarter gave the host Brits a 6-2 lead, Saint Mary's responded with a layup by Giavanna Paradiso and a jumper by Jade Mosier to knot the game at 6-6 with 4:55 on the clock. Albion regained the lead with a good jump shot, but Mosier converted a three-point play on the next Saint Mary's possession to give the Belles their first lead of the contest at 9-8. The Brits countered with a 9-1 spurt for a 17-10 advantage with 1:36 remaining in the period. Kelsie Bies and Caroline Macius each sunk a pair of free throws to make it a one-possession score at 17-14, and Giavanna Paradiso added a late jump shot to make it a 20-16 score at the conclusion of the first period.
Paradiso opened the second quarter with a jumper, and Bella Dugas made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 20-20 early in the period. Albion made a push to gain a 27-20 advantage, but Saint Mary's came right back. Carin Kaminski sunk a mid-range jump shot, Dugas hit a layup in transition, and Kaminski added another good jump shot to cut the deficit to one point at 27-26 with 2:16 on the clock. Albion maintained the lead with a jump shot of their own on the next possession, and the Brits doubled their advantage with a late three-pointer for a 32-26 halftime score.
Jade Mosier scored back-to-back buckets for the Belles in the third quarter to cut the Brits' lead to 32-30 just over three minutes into the period. Albion hit a layup on their next possession and extended the lead to five at 35-30 two minutes later. Bella Dugas had the response bucket with a layup, and Dugas added another jump shot a minute later to cut the deficit to 35-34 with 2:40 to play in the quarter. The freshman had a pair of free throws and had another layup late in the period to put the Belles within two points at 40-38 with less than a minute remaining on the clock, but Albion tallied a pair of late free throws to carry a 42-38 lead into the final quarter.
Sophie Koeppl opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a three-pointer, and Dugas drew the Belles even with a pair of free throws at 7:19 to make it 43-43. Albion responded with a three-pointer on their next possession, but Koeppl drained another trey less than a minute later to knot the score at 46-46. An Albion layup gave the home side the lead yet again, but Mosier came up with the response bucket for Saint Mary's with 4:08 remaining to tie the game yet again at 48-48. The Brits tried to gain some momentum with a three-pointer, but Koeppl was dialed in from long distance as the sophomore buried her third consecutive three-pointer to make it 51-51 with 3:40 on the clock. The Belles forced Albion into a turnover and made the most of the opportunity as Erin Maloney hit a driving layup to give Saint Mary's a 53-51 lead with just over three minutes remaining. Albion hit a three-pointer on their next possession and added a jumper a short while later for a 56-3 advantage with under two minutes left on the clock. Dugas cut the lead to one with a layup, but the Brits came back with a good jump shot in the lane for a 58-55 lead. An offensive foul call gave Albion the ball back, and the Brits connected on a pair of free throws for a 60-55 lead with 44 seconds on the clock. Erin Maloney put the Belles right back in business with a three-pointer at the top of the key to make it 60-58 with 31 seconds to play. Albion made just one of two free throws moments later, but the Belles missed a shot on their next chance. Four free throws by the home side extended the lead to 65-58 with 13 seconds on the clock. Maloney hit a driving layup with six seconds remaining, but the Brits responded with two late free throws for the 67-60 final.
Saint Mary's made 12 of 13 free throws (92.3 percent) on the night while Albion was 17-of-22 (77.3 percent) from the charity stripe. The Brits hit 57.1 percent (8-of-14) of their shots from three-point range compared to the Belles' 21.2 percent (4-of-19) effort from distance.
Bella Dugas shared game-high honors with 16 points - including a 6-of-6 effort from the free throw line - to pace Saint Mary's. Jade Mosier added 10 points, and Giavanna Paradiso chipped in nine points and nine rebounds. Sophie Koeppl posted nine points, and Erin Maloney tallied eight points, four steals, and four assists.
The Belles (2-6, 0-1 MIAA) return home on Saturday as they host a conference contest against Adrian starting at 3:00 p.m.