The Westmont College women’s basketball team, with only one game under its belt in the last seven weeks, made up for lost time on Tuesday.
The Warriors, ranked third in the NAIA national poll, opened Golden State Athletic Conference play at Murchison Gym with an 85-41 victory over Hope International.
It was an inside job for Westmont (2-1), which out-scored the Royals in the paint 42-14 while winning the rebound battle 53-21. The Warriors out-shot Hope from the field, 48.6% to 32.7%.
“We have the same team back except one player, and yet we’ve added this whole inside dynamic,” coach Kirsten Moore said. “We felt we had an advantage against them inside and our game plan was to try to attack them from there.”
Iyree Jarrett, who was playing against her sister Shalissa, led the Warriors with 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting. She also had six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Shalissa had eight points and three assists for Hope.
“Iyree is a first-team All-American and is so dynamic,” Moore said. “She does so many things for us.
“Her sister is a freshman, and I bet their dad was sitting at home, watching both girls do so well. He’s a basketball coach and a trainer, and his daughters grew up in the gym with a basketball in their hands.”
Westmont shot just 29.4% (5-for-17) during the first quarter. It needed Stefanie Berberabe to score seven of her 10 points to eke out a 15-12 lead.
But forward Kaitlin Larson triggered a 23-point second quarter for the Warriors by scoring three of their next four baskets. She finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Jarrett also came alive with nine points in the period.
Sydney Brown, the Warriors’ other starting post player, led the inside attack with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. She missed all of last season with a knee injury.
“It’s hard to come back when you’re without the opportunity of preseason games,” Moore said. “She hasn’t had that opportunity to get back into a game rhythm, so it was fun to see her play like that tonight.”
Hope pulled to within 26-20, but a three-point play by freshman Destiny Okonkwo ignited a 12-0 run for the Warriors. She finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
“She plays really hard, she defends really well and she has a real presence with her size, her strength and her athleticism,” Moore said. “She’s the first one to dive for a loose ball, and when your center is doing that, you really like it as a coach.”
Aleena Cook, Westmont’s other freshman post player, added eight points and four rebounds.
Westmont will return the trip to Hope this weekend for Friday and Saturday games in Fullerton. Tipoff will be at 4:30 p.m. for both contests.