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Belles Hang Tough with No. 2 Flying Dutch

Bella Dugas dribbles the ball with a defender nearby.
HOLLAND, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team battled until the end in a 69-43 final at No. 2 ranked and undefeated Hope on Wednesday evening.
The host Flying Dutch built an 8-0 lead through the first 2:40 of play, but the Belles had several looks at the basket during that opening stretch that were narrowly off the mark. Giavanna Paradiso put Saint Mary's on the scoreboard with a three-pointer near the seven-minute mark, and Olivia Lathers made a strong move to the basket and hit the resulting layup to make it an 8-5 game with 6:07 still remaining in the opening period. Saint Mary's held Hope scoreless for the next three minutes of play, but the Belles were unable to capitalize as the game stood at 8-5 with just over three minutes to play. The Flying Dutch, however, closed out that final stretch of the quarter with an 11-0 run to build a 19-5 lead after ten minutes of play.
Bella Dugas cleaned up an offensive rebound and hit the put-back layup on the first Saint Mary's possession of the second quarter. After a Hope three-pointer, Jade Mosier made a power move to the basket and connected on the layup. The senior drew a charge a short while later, and Mosier dialed in a three-pointer half a minute after the offensive foul to make it a 26-12 game. Paradiso sunk two free throws, and Dugas followed suit with two free throws of her own late in the quarter as the Belles played toe-to-toe with the Flying Dutch throughout the quarter. Mosier added a free throw and drained a jumper in the lane, but Hope struck last with a late layup as the hosts took a 36-19 lead into the halftime break.
The third quarter saw the teams match their second-quarter scoring outputs with Hope narrowly edging Saint Mary's 17-14 in both periods. Olivia Lathers hit a layup, Bella Dugas drained a three-pointer, and Maddie Rzepka added a layup of her own over the first three-plus minutes of the stanza. Dugas scored an open back-door layup on an in-bounds pass by Lathers to make it a 44-28 game with 5:27 to go in the quarter, but three consecutive buckets by Hope over the next three minutes of play put a halt to a Saint Mary's run. Rzepka got the Belles back on the scoreboard with a jumper with more than two minutes remaining on the clock. After a Hope layup, both teams hit a scoreless stretch until a free throw by Hope put the Flying Dutch ahead 53-30. Olivia Lathers, however, continued her knack for beating the buzzer as the senior sunk a three-pointer right in front of the Saint Mary's bench to make it 53-33 going into the final ten minutes of play.
The Flying Dutch used a 13-2 run over the first six minutes of the quarter to push the lead to 66-35 with Jade Mosier accounting for the Belles' bucket. Paradiso put three points on the scoreboard, Bella Dugas scored a fastbreak layup off of a leading pass by Mosier, and Delaney Rohlman converted a three-point play late in the quarter for the Belles. The deficit, however, was too large to overcome in the 69-43 final.
Hope used their height advantage to out-rebound Saint Mary's by a 46-35 margin with a 21-9 edge in offensive boards. Those extended opportunities led to 21 points by the Flying Dutch while the Belles posted six second-chance points on the night. The Saint Mary's defense, however, held Hope to fewer than 70 points for just the sixth time this season and only the second time this season.
Bella Dugas led the Belles with 11 points and pulled down five rebounds while collecting two assists. Jade Mosier chipped in 10 points and five rebounds. Giavanna Paradiso posted eight points and a team-best six rebounds, and Olivia Lathers tallied seven points.
The Belles (8-14, 5-8 MIAA) conclude a three-game road stretch when they travel to Kalamazoo on Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. conference contest.