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Women’s Basketball Knocks Off Saint Mary’s 77-56

Saturday, December 15, 2012

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Box Score

By Mark De Haan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A ten-day layoff for the Calvin women’s basketball team ended on Saturday as the Knights played host to the Belles of Saint Mary’s. Calvin struggled early, but four first half three-pointers from senior Kelsey Irwin (Fraser, Fraser HS) jump started the Knights’ offense en route to a 77-56 victory.

The teams played strong defense in the opening minutes of the game, with the score 7-6 in Calvin’s favor five minutes in.

Saint Mary’s then took the lead on a jumper by senior Ariana Paul (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso HS) at 8-7. A couple of missed shots by the Knights and some strong rebounding by the Belles saw Saint Mary’s begin to pull away.

Over the next seven minutes, the Belles opened up a 20-13 lead. Keeping Calvin close was Irwin, who sat at fourth on the career three-pointers made list coming into the contest. Irwin moved into third on that list in the first half, hitting four triples to give Calvin a 21-20 lead with just over five minutes remaining.

The Knights continued to build momentum and pull away throughout the remainder of the first half, extending their lead to 35-26 as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Irwin and sophomore Kayla Engelhard (Unionville/Saginaw Valley Lutheran) each had 12 points at the half for the Knights, while senior Carissa Verkaik (Holland/Holland Christian) added eight points and six rebounds.

Out of the break, Calvin began to spread the ball around, receiving contributions from a wide range of players in the second half.

One of those contributors was senior Heather DeKleine (Hudsonville/Unity Christian), who midway through the second half went three-for-three from behind the three-point arc. DeKleine’s three-pointers pushed the Calvin lead to 63-43 with 8:27 remaining in the game.

Calvin’s largest lead of the game came four minutes later on a layup by freshman Kally Verkaik (Holland/Holland Christian) as the Knights opened up a 73-48 advantage.

The Knights coasted the remainder of the way, providing all the players with playing time as they earned the 77-56 victory.

Carissa Verkaik led Calvin with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Engelhard added 14 points while Irwin chipped in 12. Irwin moves into third on the career three-pointers made list with 145 for her career. The Belles were led in defeat by junior Shanlynn Bias (Griffin, Ind./Griffin HS) who scored 14 points. Paul added 12 points for Saint Mary’s.

“We were a little flat on the defensive end, but you have to give Saint Mary’s a lot of credit,” said head coach John Ross after the game. “They’re playing a lot of freshman, but they’re really physical. Playing on the road (at Olivet next week), we’re going to have to be ready. They’re undefeated in the conference so it is going to be a battle.”

The Knights are now 3-0 in the MIAA and 7-1 overall, while Saint Mary’s drops to 1-4 in league play and 3-7 overall. Calvin’s next game is Saturday, December 22 against the Comets of Olivet. Olivet is currently tied with Calvin and Hope atop the MIAA at 3-0 in league play.

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