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Fourth-Quarter Push Lifts Belles Over Yellow Jackets

Christina Shadid dribbles the ball with a defensive player in close pursuit.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Trailing by five points with under four minutes remaining in regulation, the Saint Mary's basketball team used a 13-3 run to take over the momentum and control of the game as the Belles prevailed 56-53 against Defiance on Saturday afternoon.
It took some time for either side to get the offense clicking as the game remained scoreless through the first 2:26 of action. The Yellow Jackets broke through first with a layup and added a second shot in the lane for a 4-0 advantage, but Bella Dugas connected on a put-back bucket for a 4-2 score four minutes into play. Defiance responded with a three-pointer for a 7-2 lead, but Jade Mosier converted both ends of a trip to the charity stripe to make it a one-possession game with 5:25 on the clock. Another scoreless stretch was broken up when Dugas added a free throw of her own at the 3:52 mark to pull the Belles within two points at 7-5. Olivia Lathers sunk a pair of free throws two minutes later to tie the score at 7-7. The Yellow Jackets regained the lead on their next possession with a layup, but Kelsie Bies buried a three-pointer to give Saint Mary's a 10-9 lead at the first break.
Defiance opened the second period with a bucket on their second possession. Saint Mary's came back with the response in the form of a Maddie Rzepka three-pointer and a Bella Dugas jump shot in the paint for a 15-11 lead less than three minutes into the stanza. The Yellow Jackets tallied five points over the next two minutes for a 16-15 lead, but Rzepka hit a tough jumper in the lane to put the Belles up 17-16 on the next possession. Dugas used a second-chance opportunity to connect on a jumper, and Rzepka drained another three-pointer for a 22-18 Saint Mary's lead with 2:09 remaining before the half. Defiance, however, used a free throw and a three-pointer over the final stretch of play to hold a 24-22 advantage at the halftime break.
Bella Dugas came up with a steal, and Maddie Rzepka hit the fastbreak layup the other way to tie the score at 24-24 to begin the third quarter. Defiance countered with a 7-1 spurt for a 31-25 lead with 6:40 on the clock. Rzepka converted a pair of free throws on the next Saint Mary's possession, and Delaney Rohlman banked in the weak-side layup more than two minutes later to cut the deficit to two at 31-29. The teams traded buckets back and forth over the final three minutes of the quarter, however, with the Yellow Jackets maintaining a 38-34 lead at the end of the stanza.
Bella Dugas dialed one in from long distance on the left side of the court, and Megan Saunders fought through some contact to hit a tough layup two minutes later as the Belles kept within striking distance at 42-39 with 6:49 on the clock. Defiance regained a two-possession lead a minute later with a jump shot in the lane, and the Yellow Jackets matched that same five-point lead with 3:35 to play as a layup gave the visitors a 46-41 lead. Christina Shadid provided a huge offensive punch for the Belles over the next minute-plus of play as the freshman sandwiched a three-pointer in front of the Saint Mary's bench between four good free throws as the home side took a 48-47 lead with 2:16 to play. Defiance knotted the score at 48-48 with a free throw, but Megan Saunders and Maddie Rzepka each drained two free throws as the Belles went ahead 52-48 with 38 seconds remaining on the clock. Another Defiance free throw made it a one-possession lead with 30 seconds to go, but Kelsie Bies hit two huge free throws to put Saint Mary's up 54-49. The Yellow Jackets used a late push with three free throws to make it a one-point game with five seconds on the clock. Bies, however, sunk two no-doubt free throws with three seconds to put the Belles ahead 56-53. A last-second three-pointer by Defiance was off the mark as Saint Mary's prevailed with the three-point victory.
Maddie Rzepka paced the Belles with 16 points while also adding seven rebounds and four steals. Christina Shadid tallied her first double-digit scoring effort of her collegiate career with 12 points. Bella Dugas chipped in 10 points and a team-best eight rebounds, and Kelsie Bies posted eight points.
The Belles (3-3) travel to Chicago next Wednesday to face off against North Park at 2:00 p.m. EST.