Belz's 30 spark Mercy in home finale, 58-39

February 06, 1993|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

The seniors on Mercy's basketball team were honored in a pre-game ceremony yesterday before their last home game, against McDonogh.

After a few words were spoken and hugs were exchanged, Mercy senior Gayle Belz went out and made her finale at the school a memorable one.

Belz, a 5-foot-11 center, scored a career-high 30 points and had seven rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots to lead the seventh-ranked Sharpshooters (15-5) to a 58-39 victory over No. 12 McDonogh (12-6).

"This is my last game in this gym forever," said Belz, who was 12-for-22 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line. "All during warm-ups I was trying to get the whole team pumped up. It was a total team effort."

Junior Christina Williamson (12 points) and senior Christa Rohe (10 points) complemented the inside play of Belz with strong outside shooting. And point guard Jenny Hershberger (four points) handed out 13 assists, many of which went to Belz.

It also took a team effort on defense to neutralize McDonogh's high-scoring junior Sonia Chase, who was held to 14 points -- six below her average -- on 5-for-17 shooting from the field.

"We went to the diamond-and-one in the beginning and it seemed to slow her down, but then her teammates picked it up," Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion said. "Then we went to the 3-2, and we just tried to be conscious of where she was on the court. We moved very well as a group. It was very much a team defense."

Belz scored 18 in the first half, as Mercy took a 25-19 halftime lead.

The Sharpshooters -- who had defeated McDonogh, 36-31, in the Noel Classic in December -- were cold at the start of the third quarter, and the Eagles pulled within 25-23.

But Mercy then regained its shooting touch. The Sharpshooters made their next seven shots and ended the quarter on a 16-6 run to take a 41-29 lead.

The Eagles cut Mercy's lead to 43-35 on Chase's third three-pointer with 5:23 remaining, but they would get no closer. At one stretch in the fourth quarter, Mercy made six of eight shots from the field.

Mercy has won nine straight since a 42-41 loss to the Institute of Notre Dame on Jan. 8.

"I think the game against IND woke up the kids," Marion said. "Since then they've been very focused and they haven't looked too far ahead, which we could very easily do."

Marion was alluding to Monday's game against St. Mary's, whom the Sharpshooters trail in the Catholic League by one game with two games remaining.

St. Mary's routed Mercy, 71-45, in the Noel Classic, but the Sharpshooters later handed the Saints their only league loss, 53-47.

"This was a good game going into the St. Mary's game," Belz said. "We really played together. I know we're going to be really pumped up for that game, too."

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