The ball just wasn’t falling through the hoop for the Moriarty High School girls basketball team Dec. 11 as a close first half turned into a 40-31 loss to the visiting Belen Lady Eagles.

It was Moriarty’s second consecutive defeat after starting the season with three straight victories.

“Two games in a row we should’ve won and we didn’t get it done,” Moriarty’s head coach Joe Bailey said.

Brooke Burch hit a layup at the start of the game and added another a minute later to give the Lady Pintos an early 4-0 lead. She led the Pintos with 12 points.

Moriarty’s Brooke Burch putting up a shot in the first quarter against Belen. Photo by G. Demarest.

After that, the rock clanged off the iron or bounced off the backboard more than it plunged through the nylon for the home team.

Despite shooting 21 percent in the first half, the Lady Pintos remained within striking distance in the first half.

But the chilly shooting continued the remainder of the contest, with many of the missed shots—a cluster of red Xs on coach Bailey’s shot chart—originating from within or just outside the paint.

“You saw where the shots were coming from,” Bailey said. “We’ve gotta score inside.”

Kailei Edwards nailed the first of her three 3-pointers with 2:25 left in the second quarter to give the Lady Pintos an 11-8 advantage—their final lead of the game.

Belen (2-0) answered immediately with a 3-pointer, followed by a pair of free throws, to forge ahead 13-11 at halftime.

The Lady Eagles were up 22-14 with :22 left in the third quarter when Edwards’ second 3-ball cut the deficit to 5 points.

But Belen boosted its lead to double digits early in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles led 40-25 late in the fourth when Edwards sank her third trey. She chipped in 9 points. Moriarty’s Tristen Sauter added a 3-pointer with :18.3 remaining.

“We’ve got to get better, no one’s gonna sit and feel sorry for us,” Bailey said, adding, “ But the sun’s gonna come up in the morning and we’ll give it another shot.”

The Lady Pintos hosted the annual Alice King Invitational, Dec. 13-15.