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Comeback Effort Stopped Short for Belles Against Knights

Giavanna Paradiso dribbles the basketball.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Belles edged within three points of the visiting Knights three times in the third quarter, but the Saint Mary's basketball team was unable to overtake Calvin in a 57-51 setback on Wednesday evening.
The Knights scored on their first two possessions for an early 4-0 lead before an offensive rebound and put-back by Jade Mosier got the Belles on the scoreboard. A Calvin bucket was followed by a layup by Giavanna Paradiso as the teams played a back-and-forth three minutes to start the game. The visiting Knights used an 11-0 run over a span of 3:10 in the opening quarter for a 17-4 lead despite the Belles getting several good looks at the basket. Paradiso used an offensive rebound and layup to break the scoreless drought with 2:53 on the clock, and Christina Shadid and Olivia Lathers each hit a jump shot over the final 2:20 of the quarter to put the Belles right back in the mix at 17-10.
Calvin regained a double-digit lead with back-to-back baskets in the second quarter to make it a 24-12 game, but the Belles stayed steady and chipped away at the deficit yet again. Delaney Rohlman had a clear layup on an offensive rebound, and Bella Dugas converted a three-point play less than a minute later to make it 24-17 with 5:37 still on the clock. The Knights scored in transition, but Paradiso had a three-point play of her own to make it a 26-20 game. The two sides traded points over the final 3:30 of play with Jade Mosier and Giavanna Paradiso combining to score the Belles' final four points of the quarter as the game stood at 32-24 in favor of Calvin at the break.
Undeterred, the Belles came out of the halftime break and scored on their first possession of the quarter as Nikki Murphy sunk a three-pointer. A steal by Maddie Rzepka turned into offense the other way with Paradiso scoring in transition to make it a 34-29 game. Rzepka drained a three-pointer to energize the Saint Mary's side, and Paradiso connected on back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Belles within three points at both 38-35 and 41-38 with 5:30 still remaining in the period. Both teams hit a brief scoreless stretch before Calvin hit consecutive jump shots to regain a 45-38 lead. Saint Mary's, however, came right back again with Christina Shadid sinking two free throws and Paradiso adding a late layup in the quarter to make it a 45-42 game going into the final stanza.
Calvin out-scored Saint Mary's by a 7-0 over the first 4:27 of the quarter to regain a double-digit lead at 52-42, but the Belles continued to show their grit down the stretch. Maddie Rzpeka hit a pull-up jump shot with 3:30 to play, and the freshman dialed one in from long distance three minutes later to make it a seven-point game at 54-47 late in the game. Rzepka added a free throw, and Jade Mosier sunk a three-pointer to make it a five-point game at 56-51 with eight seconds remaining. The clock, however, ran out of time before the Belles could pull any close as Calvin took the 57-51 decision.
Saint Mary's out-rebounded Calvin by a 42-37 margin with a 17-11 edge on offensive rebounds. Both teams posted 24 points in the paint while the Knights had a +5 scoring advantage on points off of turnovers (15-10).
Giavanna Paradiso led the Belles with 20 points and nine rebounds. Maddie Rzepka added nine points and eight rebounds with a pair of blocked shots. Jade Mosier posted eight points, and Bella Dugas pulled down eight rebounds on the night.
The Belles (8-12, 5-6 MIAA) travel to Alma on Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off against the Scots.