MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The Saint Mary's basketball team finished on the short end of a 59-36 final against Wisconsin - La Crosse at the Wisconsin Lutheran Paul F. Knueppel Classic on Saturday afternoon.
Saint Mary's opened the game with the first eight points of the contest while keeping the Eagles off the scoreboard for more than six-and-a-half minutes of play for an 8-0 lead. Giavanna Paradiso opened the scoring with the Belles' first five points, and Sophie Koeppl hit a three-pointer to give Saint Mary's what would be their largest lead of the contest with 3:42 remaining in the first period. Wisconsin-La Crosse responded with a late 7-0 run to close out the quarter as the Belles carried an 8-7 lead into the second 10 minutes of play.
Neither side managed to generate any offense over the first four minutes of the second quarter. The Eagles broke that scoreless stretch with a three-pointer, but Bella Dugas had a second-chance layup and a pair of free throws to give Saint Mary's the 12-10 lead with 4:43 left on the clock. Paradiso converted the three-point play on the next Saint Mary's possession for a 15-10 lead for the Belles. Back-to-back layups by Wisconsin-La Crosse cut the lead to a point at 15-14 with under four minutes remaining in the period before Dugas again hit the response layup for Saint Mary's for the 17-14 lead. The Eagles knotted the score with 1:23 to play in the quarter with a three-pointer. The Belles responded right back again with Paradiso cleaning up the offensive glass, drawing a foul, and hitting both free throws for a 19-17 advantage. The Eagles again tied the score with a layup with just 12 second on the clock, but Olivia Lathers hit the last-second jumper to give the Belles a 21-19 lead going into the locker room.
The Belles could not get a bounce to go their way over the opening eight-plus minutes of the third quarter while Wisconsin - La Crosse saw their offense fire efficiently during that same span. The Eagles out-scored the Belles by a 17-0 margin to open the period for a 36-23 lead as Wisconsin - La Crosse went on to hit 50 percent of their shots form the floor for the quarter. Paradiso broke through for the Belles with a layup and a pair of free throws late in the quarter to edge Saint Mary's within 11 at 36-25, but a three-pointer on the Eagles' next possession gave Wisconsin - La Crosse a 39-25 lead going into the final quarter of action.
Sophie Koeppl opened the final quarter with a three-pointer, and Bella Dugas and Giavanna Paradiso added buckets a short while later to cut the deficit to eight points at 41-33 with plenty of time remaining. A 10-1 run by the Eagles, however, extended the lead to 17 with 3:28 to play as the Belles were unable to pull within fewer than 15 points down the stretch.
Giavanna Paradiso led all players with 19 points and added nine rebounds as the sophomore was named to the all-classic team at the conclusion of the event. Bella Dugas posted seven points and four rebounds, and Sophie Koeppl tallied six points. Erin Maloney registered four assists and three steals to pace the Belles.
The Belles (2-2) travel to Anderson on Tuesday evening for a 7:30 p.m. contest against the Ravens.