Tied at 54-all heading into the fourth quarter, Westmont women’s basketball Iyree Jarrett was ice cold from the floor.
The sophomore guard, who leads the team in scoring on the season with 13.1 points per game, was just 1-for-10 from the field, including 0-for-5 from deep.
“You know, I was having an off night but everyone else kind of stepped it up and made a huge difference,” Jarrett said after the game.
In the fourth quarter, it was Jarrett who made the difference.
After scoring just three points in the first three periods, Jarrett poured in 10 points in the final eight minutes of regulation to lead the Westmont Warriors to a 74-66 win over the William Jessup Warriors Thursday night at Murchison Gymnasium.
“The team we have is just really special. We have five girls averaging over 10 points per game and anyone is capable of stepping up and delivering big baskets for our team,” Jarrett said.
With the win, Westmont (17-3, 10-1) remains in the chase for the Golden State Athletic Conference regular-season championship, as it is tied with The Master’s (22-1, 10-1).
“Every game is a championship game for us right now. We have a good record right now and we’d like to keep it that way so we come out with that championship game mentality and just play and respect our opponent and find a way to get it done,” Westmont’s junior guard Lauren Tsuneishi said.
While Jarrett was struggling to break through a tough William Jessup defense, Tsuneishi was making a big difference from where she usually does, the 3-point line.
In the previous four games before Thursday’s showdown, Tsuneishi was shooting lights out from deep, knocking down 19-of-40 shots from the perimeter.
For the season, the junior averages three makes a game from beyond the arc and is shooting 39%.
Thursday night, Tsuneishi continued her hot play from the perimeter, making a game-high five threes on just nine attempts.
“My teammates just deliver such great passes. We have such good playmakers like Stephanie (Berberabe) and Iyree and them getting in the rhythm and then being really aggressive helps them to draw off of my player and that’s how I get open looks,” Tsuneishi said.
“We really just have great chemistry together.”
It also helps that Westmont’s offense is built around constant movement. In any one offensive possession for Westmont, every player on the floor will be moving, either by cutting toward the basket, setting screens, or moving around screens.
In Tsuneishi’s case, a lot of her points are centered around running around a screen and then being able to knock down the open look in near stride.
“Our coaches are super diligent with how they design our plays around our strengths and that helps us a lot, especially right now when everyone is getting involved,” Tsuneishi said.
“Our post players are starting to be a lot more aggressive, our drivers are doing their job and our shooters are being ready on the perimeter.”
In the first half, Tsuneishi was 3-for-5 from deep, helping her team be down just two at the break.
In the third quarter, with 4:07 remaining in the third quarter, Tsunieshi knocked down a big three to put the home Warriors in front 48-45.
Later, trailing by two, another three, this time from Gabriella Stoll again put Westmont back in front, 53-52.
With just six seconds left, Jarrett was able to draw a foul and make one-of-two from the charity stripe to tie the game at 54-all heading into the final period.
From there, she began her takeover of sorts.
The sophomore guard began the fourth period by going 1-of-2 from the line again before knocking down a tough layup to put Westmont in front 57-54.
She would knock down her only three-point shot of the game with 5:44 remaining to keep Westmont in front, 62-58.
The biggest play the sophomore guard made in the fourth quarter came with just over three minutes to play with Westmont leading by just two, 64-62.
After a Westmont miss, Jarrett, listed at just 5-5, crashed down hard and corraled a big offensive board even with William Jessup’s Miranda Zaragoza, a 6-3 center who leads the GSAC in offensive rebounding, in position, and then layed the ball in for two points.
“Before the game, we said one of the biggest keys for winning this game was winning the rebounding competition so we were just crashing as hard as we can. We’re always smaller, the average height on our team is like 5-5, so we know that even though we might not be able to win the jumping battle, we still box out like crazy and we crash as hard as we can,” Jarrett said.
A three-pointer by Stoll on the ensuing possession all but sealed the game. Stoll had a big game for Westmont scoring 15 points off the bench on 5-for-9 shooting from the floor.
“Gabby is always so big for us. She was big for us defenisvely guarding Zaragoza and also made plays down low,” Jarrett said.
While Westmont did not win the rebounding battle, losing 35-31, it did make some key rebounds when it needed to, including grabbing three offensive boards in one possession with under two minutes to go.
That possession was capped off by a three from Maud Ranger, making the score 72-64 with 1:21 remaining in the game.
“Down the stretch, we just train our girls to be tough in those situations and they showed it in the fourth quarter when our backs were really against it. It was do or die time and they took control,” Westmont coach Kirsten Moore said.
Despite William Jessup being unranked, Moore said she knew that it would be a tough opponent. She also loves the opportunity her team has to continue playing in tough games like Thursday’s.
“To be able to win close games down the stretch is necessary if you want to make a deep run in March and this is good to get those opportunities early on and really for us though every single game is a championship game right now so it’s nice to see us step up,” Moore said.