BURLINGTON — Mary Kate Bendlage set a new school scoring record and nearly completed Holy Trinity’s attempt at a comeback in Tuesday’s 77-68 loss at Notre Dame.
Bendlage, a junior, scored 41 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter as the Crusaders (8-8 overall, 5-7 SEI Superconference South Division) took a big slice out of the Nikes’ 25-point lead before finally falling.
“I know my role,” Bendlage said. “I’m confident in my shot and I’m confident my team knows I can do it. If the shots aren’t going in, I’ll look for someone else. But tonight they just happened to be falling in every time.”
Bendlage has scored 92 points over her last three games.
“The game has really slowed down for her the last three games,” Holy Trinity coach Tony Johnson said. “She’s a big-time player, and in big-time moments that’s when those kind of players step up.”
“In practice I’ve been keying in on not just (scoring) inside, but outside as well,” Bendlage said. “Because if you can do both, you’re a really hard player to stop.”
The Nikes (14-4, 11-1), ranked 11th in Class 1A, led 72-47 with seven minutes to play when Bendlage took over. She had all but two of the Crusaders’ points in a 21-2 run over the next five minutes that got Holy Trinity within 74-68.
Bendlage’s last chance to get points came with 37 seconds left and the Crusaders down 76-68, when she drove the baseline for a layup but was called for an offensive foul. She fouled out on Notre Dame’s next possession, and Notre Dame’s Taryn Stephens made the first of two free throws for the final margin.
Bendlage said the late rally was something the Crusaders can use for momentum.
“I think we can honestly beat anyone moving forward,” she said. “If we wouldn’t have dug such a big hole for ourselves in the beginning, we could have easily won that by 10, 15 points.”
“I was happy to see that, when we got down 20, whatever it was, we rolled right back and didn’t give up on each other,” Johnson said. “That was impressive to me.”
Holy Trinity used an early 13-0 run to take a 19-12 lead and led 29-28 with 2:10 left in the first half before Notre Dame closed the quarter with a 10-3 run. The Nikes then opened the second half with a 13-1 run.
“It’s hard to come back from that,” Bendlage said. “We’re down at halftime, but it’s not like volleyball, where you come out and it’s 0-0 and it’s a clean start.”
Kayla Box added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Crusaders.
Lauren Krieger had 18 points to lead Notre Dame.