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Shooting Woes Hinder Belles Against Scots

Giavanna Paradiso, wearing a white uniform dribbles the ball with a defending player in black in close proximity.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team had trouble getting the offense going against the visiting Alma as the Scots used a 16-6 first quarter to build a lead they would not relinquish in a 65-49 final over the Belles on Wednesday night.
Neither side could get a shot to fall over the opening three-plus minutes of action until Alma hit a layup 3:22 into the contest. Another scoreless span of two minutes again saw each side with multiple chances to get on the scoreboard. The Scots eventually doubled their lead with a layup with 4:28 remaining in the quarter and scored on the following two possessions to claim an 8-0 advantage with 3:34 on the clock. Three more buckets by the Scots pushed the lead to 14-0 with 1:41 to play in the period. Sophie Koeppl got the Belles on the scoreboard with a three-pointer, and Erin Maloney connected on a three-pointer of her own to make it a 14-6 game with less than 30 seconds on the clock. Alma, however, closed out the quarter with two late free throws for a 16-6 lead through one period.
Giavanna Paradiso opened the second quarter with a layup to cut the deficit to eight points at 16-8. Three consecutive baskets by Alma over the next two minutes saw the Scots push their lead to 22-8. Caroline Macius came right back for Saint Mary's with a baseline jumper, and Paradiso had a response basket of her own on the next possession as the Belles continued to battle, trailing 25-12. The Scots sunk a three-pointer, but Paradiso connected on four consecutive free throws to make it a 12-point game. Less than a minute later, Kelsie Bies drained a three-pointer at the top of the key to cut the deficit to nine at 28-19 as the Scots called a timeout. Alma came out of their break with back-to-back baskets, but the Belles built some momentum late with a layup and two free throws by Erin Maloney to trail 32-23 at halftime.
The two sides traded baskets more than two minutes into the third quarter with Paradiso hitting a jump shot to push the score to 34-25 with 7:06 on the clock. A layup and a three-pointer by the Scots made it a 39-25 game, but Paradiso again fought her way to a good layup midway through the quarter as the Belles trailed by a dozen. Alma responded with a run to gain a 45-27 edge, but Saint Mary's showed resilience and closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run with Paradiso, Macius, and Maloney all tallying points.
Alma opened the fourth stanza with four consecutive free throws, but Megan Saunders re-energized the home side with a good three-pointer in front of the Saint Mary's bench to make it 49-38 early in the quarter. Paradiso then added another layup as the deficit stood at 11 again at 51-40 with 8:05 on the clock. The Scots, however, distanced themselves for good with an 8-0 run over the next four minutes as the Belles had several good looks go just off the mark. Late buckets by Delaney Rohlman, Paradiso, and Saunders were not enough as Saint Mary's fell by the 65-49 final.
The Belles fell victim to a 17-of-57 shooting night (29.8 percent) from the floor despite connecting on 10-of-14 free throws (71.4 percent). Alma posted a 42.2 percent shooting effort (27-of-64) and out-rebounded the Belles 42-38.
Giavanna Paradiso posted her second double-double of the season to lead the team with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Erin Maloney chipped in 11 points and six rebounds. Megan Saunders scored five points, and Caroline Macius added four points.
Despite the setback, the team was guaranteed a spot in the top-six MIAA Tournament next week with Hope's win over Adrian.

The Belles (10-14, 7-8 MIAA) close out the regular season on Saturday when they host Albion at 3:00 p.m. The two senior members of the team - Erin Maloney and Caroline Macius - will be recognized approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the game.