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Belles Hold Off Comets

Bella Dugas makes a move toward the basket with two defending players visible on either side.
OLIVET, Mich. - The Saint Mary's basketball team fought off two big surges by host Olivet and took a 70-54 win on the road for the Belles' tenth win of the season on Saturday.
The Belles erased an early deficit with a 10-0 run over the final 3:31 of the first period to take a 17-12 lead. Giavanna Paradiso kicked off the scoring run with a jump shot in the paint. Olivia Lathers kept a play alive with a diving offensive rebound and dish to Bella Dugas for a layup. Maddie Rzepka used an offensive board and hit the put-back jumper on the next Saint Mary's possession to give the Belles their first lead of the game. Paradiso connected on two free throws before she had an offensive rebound and layup on the final possession of the quarter for the 17-12 advantage.
The two sides went back-and-forth to open the second quarter with Jade Mosier and Olivia Lathers both hitting shots early for the Belles. Paradiso and Dugas teamed up for four-consecutive points for a 25-17 Saint Mary's advantage, and Rzepka banked in a three-pointer for a nine-point lead midway through the stanza. Olivet pulled within six points with 2:47 on the clock, but Paradiso, Dugas, and Carin Kaminski all hit shots to give Saint Mary's a 36-24 lead with under a minute on the clock. The Comets posted a free throw late in the period as the Belles carried a 36-25 lead into the break.
Olivet went on a big 18-4 run to gain a 43-40 lead with 3:59 on the clock. After a timeout, Maddie Rzepka hit a jump shot for the Belles to start turning the momentum back toward Saint Mary's. Bella Dugas connected on both ends of a trip to the charity stripe for a 44-43 lead, but a three-pointer by the Comets saw the lead trade hands yet again. The Belles, however, rattled off seven straight points to gain a 51-46 advantage. Jade Mosier posted two free throws before Bella Dugas hit two free throws and a three-pointer to give the Belles a lead they would not relinquish. After an Olivet bucket, Olivia Lathers closed out the quarter with a pair of free throws for a 53-48 lead going into the final quarter.
Saint Mary's posted seven of the first nine points of the final quarter with Paradiso, Lathers, and Rzepka all getting in on the scoring. An Olivet jump shot made it an eight-point game with 5:16 to play, but Rzepka powered her way to a layup to make it a ten-point game. The Comets again cut their deficit to nine points with 2;23 remaining. The Belles then closed out the final 2:05 with seven consecutive points - capped off by a Delaney Rohlman three-pointer - to take the 70-54 win.
The Belles shot 43.1 percent (25-of-58) from the floor while holding the Comets to below 40 percent (35.3 percent; 19-of-54) in the win. Saint Mary's out-rebounded Olivet 47-26 overall with a 15-4 edge in offensive rebounds and out-scored the Comets 14-2 in second-chance points.
Saint Mary's had four players in double-digit scoring. Giavanna Paradiso shared game-high honors with 19 points and led all players with 12 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Bella Dugas posted 15 points and nine rebounds along with three steals. Maddie Rzepka added 13 points and seven rebounds. Jade Mosier chipped in 10 points.
Saint Mary's (10-15, 7-9 MIAA) will travel to third-seeded Albion for the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Wednesday as the sixth-seeded team. The Belles and Alma finished the regular season tied for fifth place overall. The Scots held the tiebreaker over Saint Mary's and will play as the fifth-seeded team at Calvin.