The Westmont women’s basketball team (20-3, 13-2), ranked third in the NAIA, took control early and never looked back as the Warriors recorded an 81-42 victory over the Lions of Vanguard (9-11, 5-10) on Thursday night in Murchison Gymnasium.
With the win at its home court, the Montecito college remains in a first-place tie with No. 6 The Master’s (24-2, 13-2) atop the Golden State Athletic Conference standings.
“We played great team, unselfish basketball tonight,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “My favorite statistic of the night – and obviously there is a lot statistically that we did right – was 25 assists on 31 baskets. There were actually times where we were almost too unselfish. We would end up at the end of the shot clock because everyone was passing up shots, trying to get a better one for their teammates. I love that mentality that we brought in today – make your teammates better and find good opportunities for them.”
The Warriors outscored Vanguard 18-1 in the opening frame, with Laila Saenz draining a trio of treys. Westmont did not let up in the second period, posting a 24-9 advantage to take a 42-10 lead into the intermission. In the first half of play, nine different Warriors added to the point total led by Saenz and Gabriella Stoll, each with nine, and Haley Dermer, who tallied six. Dermer made two of two from downtown in the second frame.
“It started with our defense today,” assessed Moore. “For us to play defense the way we did to start the game really set the tone. That needs to be what we stay focused on. We know defense is the key to our success – that and the boards. I am proud of our effort defensively and our willingness to share the ball.”
Vanguard regrouped during halftime and played more like themselves. Each team tallied 19 points in the penultimate period, resulting in a 61-29 lead for Westmont through three quarters of play. Iyree Jarrett scored eight points in the third frame, including six on two threes.
Westmont outscored Vanguard 20-13 in the final quarter, though no single player scored more than four. The bench cheered when freshman guard Giulia Abraham checked into the game with 4:16 remaining, making her collegiate debut. Just over a minute later, her teammates erupted when Abraham collected an offensive board and then drained a high-arcing three for her first collegiate points.
For the first time this season, all 12 Warriors took the court and all 12 scored. Saenz tallied 14 points while Stoll notched 13 points and three rebounds. Stefanie Berberabe recorded 10 points, nine rebounds and four rebounds. Jarrett added another 10 points and seven rebounds. Dermer scored nine points, all from beyond the arc.
Saturday, Westmont will host Life Pacific in the final regular-season home game of the year. The game will also give the Warriors an opportunity to celebrate its five seniors – Berberabe, Jarrett, Kaitlin Larson, Sydney Brown and Stoll. The game is scheduled for a 5:30 tip-off with Senior Day activities to take place before the game.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.