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Team Effort Lifts Belles Past Hornets

Maddie Rzepka shoots a three-pointer.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team hit a season-high ten three-pointers and battled their way to a 65-48 win at Kalamazoo on Saturday afternoon.
The Belles stormed out to a big lead in the first quarter. Jade Mosier put Saint Mary's on the scoreboard with a three-pointer on an extended possession and added a free throw a minute later. Bella Dugas connected on a jumper, and Maddie Rezpeka hit a jump shot of her own for an 8-2 advantage. Christina Shadid dialed one in from long distance, and Rzepka followed suit with a three-pointer of her own as the Belles claimed a 14-2 lead. After a Kalamazoo bucket, Mosier sunk another three while Dugas hit a layup to give Saint Mary's a 19-4 lead through the first quarter of play.
The teams traded buckets to open the second quarter before Kalamazoo cut the deficit to 11 points. Delaney Rohlman, however, hit a big three-pointer from the left corner to sway the momentum back to the Belles. Megan Saunders then drained a three-pointer from the right side of the floor two possessions later to give the Belles a 27-10 advantage with 6:37 remaining in the quarter. The Hornets went on a tear over the remainder of the quarter as Kalamazoo outscored Saint Mary's 13-2 during that final span of the quarter. Olivia Lathers broke up a six-minute scoring drought by the Belles on a strong backdoor layup off of a pass by Bella Dugas as Saint Mary's maintained a 29-23 lead at the half.
Kalamazoo carried that second-quarter momentum into the third period. Bella Dugas opened the stanza with a bucket for the Belles to put Saint Mary's ahead 31-23. The Hornets, however, rattled off a 17-4 run to take a 40-36 lead with 3:44 on the clock. Dugas contributed all four of the Belles' points during that span with a three-pointer and a free throw. After a timeout by Saint Mary's, Jade Mosier hit a layup and Maddie Rzepka regained the lead with a three-pointer to make it 41-40. Mosier added another jump shot a minute later, and Dugas continued her high-scoring quarter with another three-pointer to put Saint Mary's up 46-40 through three periods of play. Dugas contributed 10 of the 17 points scored in the frame with a 4-of-4 effort from the floor and a 2-of-2 shooting performance from behind the arc.
The Belles continued that scoring run from the third quarter while locking down the Kalamazoo offense to build an insurmountable lead. Rzepka hit an early shot in the fourth period before sinking another three-pointer, and Bella Dugas scored on a backdoor layup after a perfectly-threaded pass by Olivia Lathers to put Saint Mary's ahead 53-40. Giavanna Paradiso got in on the scoring with a jumper in the paint midway through the quarter, and the junior added two free throws with under two minutes remaining for a 57-40 lead. Kalamazoo scored their first bucket of the quarter with 1:19 left in the game, but the Belles were perfect from the free throw line over the final 1:06 of play as Rzepka hit six consecutive free throws before Christina Shadid closed out the Saint Mary's scoring with two free throws of her own. A late layup by the Hornets pushed the score to the final 65-48 margin with the Belles prevailing.
Six different players hit at least one three-pointer for the Belles in the win. Saint Mary's connected on 37.0 percent (10-of-27) from distance while Kalamazoo hit 23.3 percent (7-of-30) from behind the arc. The Belles posted a field-goal percentage of 40.7 percent (22-of-54) while the Hornets connected on 25.0 percent (17-of-68) of their attempts from the floor.
Maddie Rzepka led all players with a career-high 19 points on a 5-of-8 shooting performance from the floor. The freshman was 3-of-3 from behind the arc, 6-of-6 from the free throw line, and added three rebounds and two assists for the Belles. Bella Dugas posted 16 points and six rebounds with three assists. Jade Mosier had her third consecutive game in double-digit scoring with 13 points as the senior corralled a team-best eight rebounds. Giavanna Paradiso matched her career high with six assists while adding seven rebounds, two blocked shots, and a steal. Christina Shadid had a team-best three steals in the win.
The Belles (9-14, 6-8 MIAA) return home to host Albion on Wednesday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m. The senior members of the team will be recognized approximately ten minutes before the tip off of the game.