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Strong Finish Lifts Belles Over Quakers

Giavanna Paradiso dribbles past an Earlham player.
RICHMOND, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team out-scored host Earlham 19-5 over the final five minutes of play to claim a 69-63 victory in their 2019-20 season opener.
Saint Mary's came out with a layup by Devan Buda and a jumper followed by two free throws by Giavanna Paradiso to take a 6-0 lead through the first 1:47 of play. The Quakers tallied the next two buckets, but Bella Dugas drained a three-pointer to sway the momentum back to the Belles. Maddie Rzepka then sunk a pair of free throws for a seven-point lead at 11-4 with 6:03 on the clock in the opening period. The Quakers, however, used a 13-3 run over the remainder of the quarter to take a 17-14 lead at the first break.
The two sides played evenly throughout the second quarter. A Kelsie Bies three-pointer tied the score at 17-17, and a layup by Giavanna Paradiso a short while later knotted the game at 21-21 with 5:07 remaining. Earlham put the next seven points on the scoreboard to pull ahead 28-21, but the Belles came right back with back-to-back baskets by Paradiso and a jumper by Rzepka to make it a 28-27 score. Earlham had a put-back basket on their next possession, but Paradiso had the response bucket at the other end with 45 seconds remaining. The Quakers hit a jump shot on their next chance and held a 32-29 lead at the halftime break.
Sophie Koeppl opened up the third quarter with a three-pointer to tie the game at 32-32. Jade Mosier added a free throw, and Devan Buda hit a baseline jumper 30 seconds later for a 35-32 Saint Mary's lead. A 9-0 run by the home side, however, swayed the lead back in favor of the Quakers by a 41-35 margin. Paradiso put a stop to the run with a layup. Earlham tallied a three-point play and a layup off of a steal a short while later for a 46-37 advantage with 4:03 on the clock. Jade Mosier converted a three-point play of her own to pull the Belles within six points, but the Quakers continued to maintain a multiple-possession lead throughout the remainder of the quarter as Earlham carried a 51-43 advantage going into the final stanza.
The Quakers opened the fourth quarter with five quick points for a game-high 13-point lead at 56-43. Paradiso had a put-back layup to halt the run, and Jade Mosier hit a key three-pointer to cut the deficit to eight points at 56-48 with 6:33 on the clock. Mosier hit Buda with a solid pass, and Buda made the layup on the next Saint Mary's possession to make it a 56-50 game. After an Earlham timeout, the Quakers added a layup of their own to hold an eight-point lead with 5:06 to play. The Belles shifted into a new gear over the final five minutes of play as Paradiso put the next three points on the scoreboard via free throws. Koeppl then drained a big three-pointer, and Jade Mosier had a steal and a layup to tie the game at 58-58 with 3:07 remaining. The Quakers hit a layup on their next possession, but Mosier quickly tied the game with a good jumper at the top of the key. With the score tied 62-62 with 1:05 to play after the teams traded buckets yet again, Mosier hit Paradiso in the post with a pass, and Paradiso sunk the layup to five the Belles a 64-62 lead with :42 seconds to play. The Belles came up with a stop defensively on the next Earlham possession, and Sophie Koeppl extended the lead for Saint Mary's with a free throw as the Quakers were forced to foul to try to get the ball back. Koeppl then pulled down a big defensive rebound on another missed shot by Earlham and sunk both free throws for a 67-62 Saint Mary's lead with 17 seconds to play. The Quakers made a free throw of their own with less than ten seconds remaining, but Mosier all but sealed the deal for the Belles with two good free throws with 5.9 seconds on the clock as Saint Mary's took the 69-63 comeback win on the road.
Giavanna Paradiso led all players with 27 points and 12 rebounds as the junior hit the first eight shots she took from the floor. Jade Mosier added 15 points and eight rebounds. Sophie Koeppl chipped in nine points, and Devan Buda posted six points for the Belles.
The Belles (1-0) have their home opener on Tuesday, November 12 when they host North Central at 6:00 p.m.