Playing in The Pit has always been a challenge for the Westmont women’s basketball team (9-1, 3-1 GSAC) and this year was no exception for the second-ranked Warriors. Despite struggling to put the ball in the hoop, the Warriors knocked off #15 Vanguard (4-2, 2-2) by a score of 63-58.
The game took place Thursday in Costa Mesa.
“Nothing came easy for us tonight, which is usually the way it is when we play Vanguard,” acknowledged Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “Our defensive effort won the game for us tonight. We found enough stops to get a win on the road.”
Westmont took advantage of Vanguard’s 19 turnovers, 11 of which were the result of steals. The Warriors scored 24 points off of turnovers while giving up just nine.
Stefanie Berberabe recorded a double-double for the Warriors with 23 points and 13 rebounds. She also added three assists and three steals. Iyree Jarrett notched 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
The game was characterized by stoppages in play. Numerous whistles were blown to reset the shot clock and 40 fouls were called on the two teams. There were also 34 turnovers.
“It was very hard to get in a rhythm the entire game,” noted Moore.
Offensively, the Warriors shot just 34.4% from the field (21 of 61), including 22.7% (5 of 22) from beyond the arc. The cold shooting from outside led the Warriors to attack the rim, resulting in fouls and Westmont taking 25 free throws and making 16. Vanguard reached the free throw line 23 times but made just 11, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Also a difference was Westmont’s Destiny Okonkwo.
“Destiny finished well inside and played phenomenal defense on their leading scorer,” said Moore.
Okonkwo held Vanguard’s Melissa Akullu to 12 points. The sophomore center entered the game averaging 23.4 points per game.
With a four-game road trip in the rearview mirror, the Warriors return to Murchison Gymnasium to take on Hope International (11-1, 4-1) on Saturday as part of a men’s and women’s doubleheader. The women tip off at 5:30 p.m. with the men following at 7:30.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.