Posted: Nov 27, 2019
CHICAGO, Ill. - The Saint Mary's basketball team was unable to overcome a first-quarter deficit in a 71-59 setback against undefeated North Park on Wednesday afternoon.
The host Vikings took an 8-2 lead through the first four minutes of play and matched that same six-point lead at 10-4. Nikki Murphy and Christina Shadid tallied back-to-back buckets to make it a 10-8 score, and Bella Dugas posted a pair of layups less than two minutes later to pull the Belles within two points at 14-12 with under three minutes remaining in the period. North Park, however, responded with 10 unanswered points as Saint Mary's was unable to connect on both close-range and long-range shots over the final 2:31 of the quarter as the Vikings held a 24-12 lead at the first break.
Saint Mary's cut the deficit to nine points on three separate occasions in the opening six minutes of the second quarter. Giavanna Paradiso, Maddie Rzepka, and Christina Shadid all chipped in points to make it a 31-22 score with 4:08 on the clock. North Park responded with an 11-3 spurt as Saint Mary's could not get the bounces to go their way on offense as the Vikings built a game-high 17-point lead at 42-25. The Belles were able to take some momentum into the locker room, however, as a defensive board by Paradiso in the closing seconds led to a buzzer-beater the other way by the junior as the score stood at 44-31 at the half.
The Belles made it an 11-point game three times early in the third quarter. Jade Mosier collected a steal before hitting a jumper to open the period. The senior then drained a three-pointer on the next possession for the Belles. Bella Dugas added a pair of free throws after being fouled on a put-back effort as the score stood at 49-38 with 8:17 on the clock. Neither team connected on a shot over the next three-plus minutes of action. North Park broke that drought with a jumper, but the Belles responded right away with a Paradiso layup. Back-to-back three-pointers by the Vikings were then countered with a three-pointer by Nikki Murphy as Saint Mary's continued to battle. The teams continued to trade buckets, but the Vikings hit a last-second shot of their own to hold a 62-46 lead going into the final quarter.
Saint Mary's came out strong to open the fourth period. Murphy hit a free throw, and Dugas added two free throws in the first 1:23 of the quarter. Paradiso then converted the and-one opportunity after making a bucket while being fouled to pull the Belles within 10 points at 62-52 with 8:00 on the clock. Five more points by Paradiso edged Saint Mary's within eight points at 63-55 and 65-57 with plenty of time still remaining. The comeback effort, however, was not meant to be as the Belles were able to add just two points over the final four minutes of play in the 71-59 final.
Saint Mary's posted a 44.2 percent shooting effort to the floor, marking the fourth time this season the Belles have connected on 40.0 percent or better of their attempts. Both sides pulled down 33 rebounds in the contest, but North Park outscored Saint Mary's 19-4 on second-chance buckets.
Giavanna Paradiso led all players with 19 points and eight rebounds for the Belles. Bella Dugas chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, and a team-best three assists. Nikki Murphy added a season-high nine points, and Christina Shadid tallied nine points. Maddie Rzepka pulled down seven rebounds
The Belles (3-4) are back in action next Wednesday, December 4 when they open MIAA play at home against Alma at 7:00 p.m.