In just 20 minutes of play, sophomore forward Aleena Cook tallied 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds to help lead the No. 2-ranked Westmont women’s basketball team (13-2, 6-1) to a 76-36 win Saturday over the Oaks of Menlo (8-6, 3-4).
Laila Saenz added 14 points to the Warrior cause while Stefanie Berberabe notched 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Warriors started the game on a 13-2 run with four points from Sydney Brown (9 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks), three from Saenz and two each from Berberabe, Cook and Destiny Okonkwo (8 points, 6 rebounds). By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors had a 21-8 advantage.
Neither team produced much offense in the second quarter. After Brown converted an ‘and-one’ play just 40 seconds into the second frame, the Warriors endured a five minute scoring drought. However, Westmont held the Oaks to just 10 points in the quarter and entered the locker room with a 28-18 advantage.
With the start of the third quarter, however, the Warriors offense started clicking. The Warriors made 58.1% of their shots from the floor in the second half (18 of 31), including 57.1% from 3-point range (4 of 7).
Westmont opened the third quarter on a 13-4 run with Cook producing an old-fashioned three-point play before Saenz scored on a jumper. Cook continued the run with a layup and then Saenz delivered another of her four 3-pointers. After a layup by Okonkwo, Berberabe capped the run with a free throw to make the score 41-22 with 4:40 to play in the penultimate period.
By the time the third quarter clock reached zero, Westmont had doubled its 10-point halftime lead to 20 points (48-28).
In the final frame, Westmont made field goals on its first eight possessions, producing a 17-4 run to make the score 65-32. Cook provided baskets on five of those possessions with Saenz, Okonkwo and Iyree Jarrett (6 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists), providing the other three. Westmont outscored Menlo 28-8 in the last quarter of play.
The Warriors have not allowed an opponent more than 10 points in any of its last eight quarters of play and have not allowed more than 15 points in its last 12. Westmont ranks second in the NAIA in fewest points allowed per game at 49.93, just ahead of The Master’s at 49.94. Lyon (Ark.), whom Westmont beat 66-60 in the Round of 16 at last year’s national championship, leads the NAIA in that category at 49.27 per game.
Next week, Westmont will finish off the first round of GSAC play by traveling to Life Pacific (0-7, 0-13) for a game on Thursday and then hosting San Diego Christian (5-10, 2-5) at home on Saturday.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.