When it comes to defenders against Westmont’s Iyree Jarrett — she who hesitates is lost.
Jarrett scored a game-high 21 points Saturday afternoon to lead the No. 4 Warriors to an 81-53 victory over Menlo at Murchison Gym, as the sophomore scored early and often to lead her team to victory.
The sophomore guard, who Thursday night opened the game 1-for-10 shooting before scoring 10 in the final eight minutes, picked up right where she left off Saturday afternoon. She opened the first quarter making five of her eight attempts from the floor, including a 3-pointer, on her way to 12 points in the first 10 minutes. On multiple occasions, Jarrett had the ball at the top of the key as the shot clock was winding down. She was able to use crafty ball-handling and fancy footwork to rid her defender and take the ball to the rim.
“I do really enjoy being in that spot,” Jarrett told the News-Press after the game. “Even if the opponent plays really good defense against us and stops our plays, we’re really good at creating.”
As a team, the Warriors (19-3, 12-1 in GSAC) made four of their first five attempts from downtown, which included three from deep from senior Maud Ranger. Jarrett’s scoring output matched the opposition in the first quarter as Westmont jumped out to a 25-12 lead at the end of the first.
The Warriors opened a 32-16 lead with just over five minutes left in the second quarter following a scoop layup by Stefanie Berberabe. A step-back three by Lauren Tsuneishi gave Westmont a 35-17 lead with 2:12 in the half, but the home team got into some foul trouble and Menlo was able to cut into their lead. The Oaks (10-12, 6-7 in GSAC) converted five of their six free-throw attempts in the period and a 3-pointer by Alexis Delovio late in the first half cut the Westmont lead to 36-24 at the break.
The Oaks were able to hang in the game during the early portion of the third quarter and kept the margin at 10 points over the first few minutes. A 3-pointer by Gabriella Stoll from the top of the key pushed Westmont’s lead to 15. Jarrett went on to convert a pair of layups before a 3-pointer by Tsuneishi gave Westmont a 53-37 lead with 2:51 left. Berberabe hit back to back jumpers, including a corner three, to help Westmont open a 60-40 lead heading to the fourth.
The Warriors kept the pressure on in the final period, leading by as many as 29 points as they cruised to victory.
Ranger posted her ninth double-double of the season, posting 14 points and 11 rebounds. As a team, the Warriors allowed 16 offensive rebounds in the game, but just four second-chance points. Coach Kirsten Moore said the Warriors did a better job on the boards in the second half, which she said helped her team build its lead. Westmont also emphasized its transition defense and tried to limit Menlo from running in the open court.
“We really had to sprint back and get our stops,” Jarrett said. “Delovio, their point guard, is always pushing. (She is) a really good shooter and crafty getting to the rim, so we had to make sure we stopped the ball first and foremost and then get out on their shooters.”
Delovio led the Oaks with 17 points, but the road team was limited to just three of 12 from deep and shot 32% from the field for the game. Westmont, which leads the NAIA in 3-point field goals per game with just over 12 an outing, went 12-for-20 from 3-point range and shot 53% overall.
While Jarrett was able to get into her rhythm offensively Saturday afternoon, Ranger said that no matter how the guard is shooting she is still able to make a positive impact on the game.
“She can have an off-night or she can have an on-night, but whatever is going on she finds a way to contribute for us,” Ranger said. “If she has an on-night she’ll go to the rim, if she has an off-night she’ll create for us. We’re just such a well-rounded team that it doesn’t matter who has an off-night, someone will step up, and Iyree has just been great at finding that rhythm and then finding us.”
Moore has been pleased with how her team continues to battle and scrap despite a limited rotation and no player over 6-feet on the roster. Perhaps the Warriors’ biggest advantage comes from something that you won’t find on the stat sheet, according to the 15-year coach.
“I think our girls use their brains and their hearts,” Moore said. “(Those) are our biggest tools on defense, because we’re smaller than everybody, but we bring those two things really well. I think we play really smart and I think we just have a really high toughness factor and hustle.”
Westmont has now won six in a row and 14 of its last 15. The Warriors remain tied for first at the top of the GSAC with The Master’s (24-1, 12-1 in GSAC).
With five more games left in conference play, Ranger said the team will look to continue its winning ways down the stretch.
“It’s just so important that we keep that momentum going and that we keep our confidence and our level of play high as we’re entering the end-of-the-year tournaments and Nationals where things really start to matter,” she said. “We’re just taking things one game at a time and trying to build momentum.”