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Last-Second Bucket Sets Belles Back at Dominican

Giavanna Paradiso, wearing a white uniform, dribbles the ball with an opposing player visible to the left and to the right.

RIVER FOREST, Ill. - Jade Mosier hit a pair of free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 58-58, but host Dominican scored a layup at the buzzer to take a 60-58 final over Saint Mary's on Wednesday evening.

Trailing 7-4 early in the first quarter, the Belles rattled off six consecutive points with back-to-back three-point plays. Erin Maloney grabbed a steal, hit the layup, and made the and-one free throw to tied the game at 7-7. Ten seconds later, Sophie Koeppl collected a steal before passing the ball ahead for Maloney. Maloney fed a pass to Bella Dugas, and Dugas hit the fastbreak layup and also drained the and-one free throw to make it a 10-7 lead for Saint Mary's. Caroline Macius cleaned up the offensive glass and made the put-back effort a short while later for a 12-9 Belles lead. Both sides traded buckets over the final three minutes of the opening period, and the host Stars made a three-pointer on their final possession of the quarter to take a 19-18 lead into the first break.

Dominican opened the second quarter with a pair of layups to gain a 23-18 advantage, but Megan Saunders put the Belles right back in business with a three-pointer from the right wing. Paradiso then knotted the game at 23-23 with a layup with 6:48 on the clock. After the Stars broke the tie with a layup, Saunders had the response yet again with a layup of her own to tie the score at 25-25. Paradiso then poured in back-to-back buckets, and Kelsie Bies sunk a three-pointer at the top of the key to give the Belles a 32-25 edge with 2:46 to play before halftime. The Stars cut the deficit to one point at both 32-31 and 34-33, but Erin Maloney had an offensive board and beat the shot clock buzzer from the left baseline with a floater for a 36-33 Saint Mary's lead through two quarters of play.

The Belles led throughout the duration of the third quarter. Jade Mosier hit a layup early in the period to give Saint Mary's a five-point lead at 38-33. Paradiso, Sophie Koeppl, Bella Dugas, and Megan Saunders all tallied points as both sides posted 13 points in the period. With the Stars within a point at 47-46 in the final minute of the quarter, Megan Saunders ensured the Belles would not be trailing going into the final period as she hit a layup with nine seconds on the clock for a 49-46 advantage through three quarters.

Both sides struggled to get the offense going in the final period, but Paradiso put the Belles on the scoreboard first with a layup for a 51-46 lead with 7:53 on the clock. Despite having scoreless drought over the next five-plus minutes of action, the Belles limited the Stars' chances and were within striking distance at 56-51 with 2:17 remaining in the quarter. Erin Maloney hit a free throw, and Giavanna Paradiso made it a two-point game at 56-54 with over a minute remaining. Dominican scored on their next possession, but Paradiso again hit a layup to make it a 58-56 score. The defense for Saint Mary's came up with the needed stop and the rebound as the Belles got the ball back with 20 seconds left on the clock. Jade Mosier drew a foul with just over four seconds remaining, and the junior hit both free throws to tie the game at 58-58. Dominican used a timeout to exercise the option to advance the ball to the front court, and the Stars scored a layup off of the ensuing in-bounds play to take the 60-58 final.

Giavanna Paradiso led all players with 24 points and shared game-high honors with nine rebounds. Megan Saunders scored nine points, and Erin Maloney posted six points, four assists, and four steals. Jade Mosier pulled down nine rebounds and had four points.

The Belles (2-4) kick off conference play on Saturday when they host Calvin at 3:00 p.m. at Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex.