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Belles Topped by No. 3 Flying Dutch

The team huddles up prior to the start of the game.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Saint Mary's basketball team dropped a 76-41 final against No. 3 ranked (WBCA NCAA Division III Top 25 Coaches Poll) and undefeated Hope on Saturday afternoon.
The Flying Dutch got a bucket on their first possession, but Bella Dugas battled her way to a layup off of a leading pass by Nikki Murphy just moments later for a quick 2-2 contest. Hope responded with seven points to gain a 9-2 edge. Dugas, however, drained a jump shot before knocking down a there-pointer from the right corner to pull the Belles within a possession at 9-7 with 6:49 on the clock. The teams combined to score just four points over the next two-and-a-half minutes of action, but all four of those points were put on the scoreboard by Hope as the Flying Dutch extended their lead to just six points at 13-7 midway through the quarter. A three-pointer by Hope with a shade over four minutes remaining made it a nine-point game, but Giavanna Paradiso got on the scoreboard with a jump shot to cut the deficit to seven on the next Saint Mary's possession. The Flying Dutch put up eight quick points in the span of a minute late the quarter for a 24-9 advantage. Jade Mosier broke up the scoring spurt with a layup off of a good leading pass by Megan Saunders, but Hope connected from behind the arc on their final possession of the quarter to hold a 27-11 lead through ten minutes of action.
Hope opened the second quarter with a layup, but a Nikki Murphy three-pointer took a favorable bounce off the rim and went in before Christina Shadid had an offensive board and good jumper to make it a 29-16 game with eight minutes remaining in the quarter. The two sides had a two-minute scoreless drought before Hope used three free throws to gain a 16-point lead with five minutes to play before halftime. Maddie Rzepka hit a tough shot in the lane a short while later, and Megan Saunders connected on both ends of a trip to the charity stripe with two minutes remaining in the quarter. Hope, however, outscored the Belles by a 10-3 margin over the final four minutes of the period span to take a 45-22 lead into the halftime break.
The third quarter was a tightly-contested ten minutes as the Belles held Hope to their fewest points in a quarter in the game while tallying their highest ten-minute total. Saint Mary's battled back after an eight-point spurt by Hope gave the Flying Dutch a 53-23 lead. Olivia Lathers connected on a free throw before Paradiso worked her way into the paint for a layup. Lathers then drained a three-pointer in front of the Saint Mary's bench for an 8-0 spurt for the Belles. Paradiso converted a three-point play late in the quarter as the Belles pulled within 13-12 for points in the quarter against the Flying Dutch. A late free throw by Hope made it a 59-34 game going into the final stanza as the Flying Dutch outscored the Belles 14-12 in the third period.
Jade Mosier, Maddie Rzepka, and Delaney Rohlman all tallied points in the fourth quarter, but the Belles were limited to 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) from the floor over the final period as the Flying Dutch took the 76-41 final.
Bella Dugas led the Belles with eight points and two blocked shots as the sophomore also pulled down four rebounds. Maddie Rzepka added seven points and a game-high seven rebounds, and Giavanna Paradiso chipped in seven points. Jade Mosier score six points while Olivia Lathers added four points for Saint Mary's.
The Belles (6-10, 3-4 MIAA) are back in action on Wednesday, January 22 when they host Kalamazoo at 7:00 p.m.