Women’s Basketball Falls to Saint Mary’s in MIAA Tournament Semifinals
Friday, February 27, 2009
By Chaz Amidon
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the third time this year, the Knights squared off against a Saint Mary’s team amid a “season of firsts,” where the Belles turned in their best conference campaign since joining the MIAA in 1997-98.
And for the third time this year – for the third time ever, as a matter of fact – Calvin suffered a loss to the No. 2-seeded Belles, this time in the MIAA Tournament semifinals.
The Knights fell by a score of 67-58 two days after avenging a pair regular season losses to Alma in the first round, failing to reach the tournament title game for the second straight year.
“Obviously there were a lot of tears,” said senior Kristi Brummel. “I don’t think we were all expecting it to end tonight. I think we were all just kind of upset about that.”
Calvin had won six of its last seven heading into Thursday’s semifinal, with its only loss coming to Hope, the No. 2 team in the country, on Saturday in a 68-65 heartbreaker at Van Noord Arena.
But the Knights’ late-season surge came screeching to a halt in Notre Dame as they shot just 36 percent from the floor and committed 24 costly turnovers throughout.
“It’s really shocking to think about never playing basketball again, especially in an organized setting,” said senior Marcia Harris. “Thinking about not seeing these girls everyday…you don’t really think about what it means.”
Harris, in her final collegiate game, finished 2-of-9 from the field and scored seven points, her fewest since returning from a meniscus tear on Feb. 7. She missed nine games after opting for midseason surgery on her right knee, which has been plagued by numerous injuries throughout the past two seasons.
In the seven games since her return, she averaged 17.3 points-per-game, including a 28-point performance at Adrian in her first game back.
Her 1,551 career points is second only to Lisa Winkle’s 1,721 – an all-time Calvin scoring record.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Is it hard to think about what would have happened if it didn’t?’” said Harris. “Going from never thinking you’re going to play again to playing in your last eight games at the end of your season – it feels so great to just play again for my team.”
Calvin was paced by Brook Van Eck’s 12 points, while Sarah Partridge and Amber Benthem added 10 and eight, respectively.
The Knights bolted out to an early 7-2 lead, but surrendered 11 turnovers within the opening eight minutes. Saint Mary’s engineered runs of 8-0 and 9-0 midway through the first half – a stretch where Calvin shot 3-of-14 to fall in a 22-11 hole.
“I don’t think that anyone this year – except for the first five games of the year – saw how good our team really was,” said senior Emily Schrotenboer. “Our record definitely doesn’t show the talent that our team had.”
Calvin opened the second half by shooting 2-of-12, and the Belles snowballed their double-digit lead to 17 points with 9:12 remaining.
Van Eck and Brummel each converted on conventional three-point plays to trim Saint Mary’s lead to 11, but the Knights could not get within eight points before the end of regulation. Brummel knocked down her only 3 with 14 seconds left to bring the score to 63-55.
The Belles’ Erin Newsome and Patsy Mahoney each connected on a pair of free throws in the final 13 seconds to advance to the MIAA Tournament Final for the first time.
Newsome poured in a game-high 19 points, Katie Rashid chipped in 12 and Anna Kammrath had 11 to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.
“They are a very solid team,” said Brummel. “They have strong and quick guards, and also their posts, who are very versatile.
“They really push the tempo and play in-your-face defense. It puts a lot of pressure on the other team.”
The Belles finished the MIAA season with a 13-3 record, surpassing their 10-win season back in 2006-07. Prior to this year, they had never beaten Calvin or Hope in league action and had never picked up a win over a nationally ranked opponent. (Saint Mary’s defeated No. 2 Hope 91-84 on Jan. 3.)
The Knights, although they earned NCAA-III berths in ’05-06 and ’06-07, have not claimed an MIAA Tournament title since 2005.
Calvin (16-10, 9-7) was eliminated by Adrian in the first round last season, one year after advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in the national tournament.
“It’s a big part of life that’s going to be missing for a long time,” said senior Lauren Roodvoets. “That’s not something that goes through your head until the last five minutes (of the game) or so. I’m going to miss that a lot – the camaraderie, the teamwork, everything.”
The Knights will graduate seven seniors this coming offseason: Harris, Brummel, Partridge, Schrotenboer, Roodvoets, Kelly Trewhella and Marissa Walker.
NOTES: The Knights are now 29-3 all-time against Saint Mary’s. Before this year, they were 29-0, dating back to the 1990-91 season…The Belles are 13-1 when leading at halftime…Calvin played 16 of its 26 games on the road this season…Calvin coach John Ross is currently tied with Greg Afman (1993-99) for Calvin’s all-time winningest coach with 130 victories. He is 130-36 in his six years at the helm for the Knights.