NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team prevailed in a 65-52 final against Earlham on Saturday afternoon in both teams' first game of the 2018-19 season.
The Belles took the early 4-0 lead with a bucket by Giavanna Paradiso on the game's opening possession followed by a layup by Paradiso on the next Saint Mary's possession. The Quakers were within two points of the home side three times in the opening quarter, but a three-pointer by Kelsie Bies with under a minute remaining in the period pushed the Belles ahead 16-11 at the first break.
Saint Mary's built an 11-point lead in the second quarter thanks to an 8-0 run over a span of 2:40 of play. Paradiso had a layup, two free throws, and another bucket in the paint while Bella Dugas hit a layup of her own to make the score 24-13 in favor Saint Mary's. The Belles were then held without a bucket over the next two-plus minutes of play as the Quakers cut into the deficit to make it 24-21 with 4:33 remaining in the quarter. Paradiso hit three of four free throws over the next three minutes to make it a two-possession lead for the Belles at 27-21 with 1:17 on the clock. A second-chance bucket and two free throws by Erin Maloney in the final 40 seconds of the period extended the lead to 31-23, but Earlham hit a late jumper to make it a 31-25 score at the halftime break.
Earlham twice pulled within six points in the third quarter at 33-27 and 36-30, but Paradiso again provided a big offensive punch with a layup and a three-point play to make it a 41-30 score with 2:44 in the quarter. Erin Maloney came up with a big steal at mid-court, and Jade Mosier grabbed and offensive rebound before hitting the put-back layup on the same play to give Saint Mary's their largest lead of the game at 45-33. Some high pressure by the Quakers late in the quarter led to a pair of late layups as Earlham cut the deficit to six points yet again at 45-39 as the game moved to the fourth quarter.
The sides traded buckets to open the period before a three-pointer by Bella Dugas gave Saint Mary's a 55-43 lead with 6:10 still to play. Earlham made it a nine-point game three minutes later with a layup, but a layup by Paradiso and a turn-around jumper by Caroline Macius in the lane pushed the Belles' advantage to 59-46 with 2:17 to play. The Quakers fouled to stop the clock in an attempt to make a comeback, but the Belles used the trips to the foul line to extend the lead to 15 late in the game. Earlham hit a layup with two seconds remaining, but the Belles secured the win with a 65-52 final score.
It is the first season-opening win for the Belles since a 75-73 win over Illinois College to begin the 2012-13 season. Additionally, Saint Mary's connected on 51.1 percent (23-of-45) of their shots from the floor with a 45.5 percent (5-of-11) effort from behind the three-point arc. The Belles took advantage of their trips to the charity stripe as the team made 14-of-18 (77.8 percent) of their free throws in the contest.
Giavanna Paradiso led all players with 22 points while adding five rebounds. Bella Dugas chipped in 11 points and six rebounds. Erin Maloney tallied eight points, six assists, five steals, and two rebounds. Jade Mosier had a game-high nine rebounds to go along with six points as ten different players scored at least one point for the Belles.
The Belles (1-0) travel to Illinois Tech on Tuesday for a 7:00 p.m. CST tip-off against the Scarlet Hawks.