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Belles Suffer Setback on the Road at Alma

Jade Mosier prepares to shoot the basketball in a game.
ALMA, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team shouldered a 59-50 loss in conference play at Alma on Saturday afternoon.
The host Scots built an 11-4 lead through the first five minutes of play. After a timeout, Giavanna Paradiso put the Belles back on the scoreboard to help start a run by Saint Mary's. Nikki Murphy connected on a shot in the paint, and Jade Mosier connected from long range for a three-pointer to put the Belles within a point with 3:03 on the clock. Murphy then collected a loose ball and made the transition jump shot in the paint the other way to give Saint Mary's a 13-12 lead. Alma got the last bucket of the quarter - a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the period - to hold a 15-13 lead going into the second stanza.
That three-pointer started an 8-0 spurt for the Scots as Alma built a 20-13 lead at the 7:29 mark in the second quarter. Bella Dugas, however, converted a three-point play a minute later to cut the deficit to four at 20-16. The Scots countered with four consecutive points, but Nikki Murphy put Saint Mary's right back in the mix with a three-pointer to push the score to 24-19 with more than four minutes to play before the half. Both sides had trouble generating offense over that final span of play in the quarter. Alma hit a three-pointer of their own with 2:48 on the clock, but Maddie Rzepka swayed some momentum in favor of Saint Mary's with a tough-angle layup with five seconds to go as the game stood at 27-21 at the halftime break.
Rzepka picked up where she left off with a layup to open the third quarter. Alma hit a pair of early three-pointers and a jumper in the paint, but a Paradiso layup and a Mosier three-pointer stopped the Scots from going on a big run. Two minutes later, Rzepka dialed one in from the right side of the court to make it 35-31. A minute and a half after that shot, Paradiso scored on a fastbreak chance for a 35-33 score as Alma called a timeout. The two teams traded points back-and-forth over the final three minutes of the quarter, and Olivia Lathers converted a three-point play late as the Belles stayed within two points of the Scots (40-38) going into the final period of play.
Alma extended their lead to six in the first minute of the quarter, but Saint Mary's came back with back-to-back buckets by Dugas and Murphy midway through the stanza as the Scots stayed ahead 44-42. Two free throws by Alma made it a four-point game, but Paradiso used a free throw to make it a one-possession difference on the next Saint Mary's chance. The Scots used back-to-back buckets to build a seven-point lead, and the Belles could not get the offensive bounce needed over the final three minutes to make the late comeback on the road in the 59-50 final.
The two teams ended the game in a near deadlock in rebounds with the Belles edging the Scots 41-40 while Saint Mary's committed just one more foul (12) than Alma (11). The teams were dead even in total field goals made (21), but the Scots hit two more shots from behind the arc than the Belles while sinking 11-of-13 free throws to the 4-of-7 effort by Saint Mary's.
Jade Mosier had her second double-double of the season with 12 points and a team-best 10 rebounds. Giavanna Paradiso added 12 points of her own. Nikki Murphy matched her season-high point total with nine while pulling down a new season-best nine rebounds while dishing out four assists. Maddie Rzepka chipped in seven points and six rebounds.
The Belles (8-13, 5-7 MIAA) continue a three-game road stretch when they travel to Hope on Wednesday, February 12 for a 7:30 p.m. contest.