FORT WAYNE— It took two and a half quarters to break the spirit of the Squaws Tuesday night at Bishop Dwenger.
The Saints' only three-pointer of the game came with two minutes left to play in the third frame from the hands of Erin Ryan after a Bellmont turnover pushing the once manageable lead to 11 points at 40-29 and Dwenger would eventually cruise to a 63-47 finish.
The loss bumps the Squaws to 0-2 on the season after playing another quality opponent in Woodlan last week. The culprit on Tuesday night was 40 turnovers and 11 offensive rebounds for the Saints' offense.
"We panic with the ball. We don't put that kind of pressure on each other at practice and we're just not confident with the ball for some reason on a team starting four guards," noted Bellmont coach Andy Heim. "When we figure that out we'll be tough to beat."
The Squaws seemed tough to beat in the first quarter despite eight miscues early on. Dwenger scored the game's first six points in a span of four minutes before freshman Lexy Norby stepped into the game.
The frosh, who started the year as a junior varsity starter, made her presence felt with two baskets to push the game to 6-4 before a pair of free throws made it 8-4 Saints. A driving lay-up from Courtney Scherer made it 8-6 with two minutes left in the first and Norby's jumper in the final minute tied the game 8-8 as the freshman kept the Squaws right where they needed to be after one quarter.
In the second quarter, Bellmont took the lead on an Amanda Hunter three-pointer followed by a pair of Bailey Christlieb freebies for the 13-10 advantage.
The turnover bug would strike again, however, as the Squaws simply could not handle the full-court press brought on by Dwenger leading to a 7-0 run for the Saints. They would not trail again.
Despite the game's sloppy feel in the first half, Bellmont trailed by just six mostly thanks to the turnaround jumper from Nicole Maxwell of Dwenger at the buzzer.
A Scherer free throw cut it to five points early in the third but the Squaws would go on a cold streak that lasted until 4:15 in the frame when Christlieb knocked down a jumper off of an offensive rebound to make it 31-23.
The turnovers would keep the Squaws from getting into a groove and Ryan's three changed the complexity of the game.
"We cut it to four or five and then we turned it over on two straight possessions followed by their only three of the game. It turned the game around," admitted Heim.
The Squaws had a good defensive stop early in the fourth quarter but Greta Winkeljohn snatched one of her six offensive boards using her 6'1" frame to put back two points making it 48-29. The lead would get to 20 points before Christlieb made a jumper, then two plays later a triple. Scherer's free throws made it 53-38.
Scherer took the game over in a one-minute burst late in the fourth collecting four points on free throws and a jumper cutting the lead as close as 10 points at 57-47 but the Saints would score the game's final six points in the last two minutes with Bellmont gassing on the comeback effort.