SURPRISE, Ariz. — After not getting to play Arizona Christian or OUAZ last season, the No. 2-ranked Westmont women’s basketball team (8-1, 2-1) returned to the Grand Canyon State this weekend, and are leaving with their second GSAC win after defeating the Spirit (0-4, 1-8) 86-33 on Saturday.
Westmont outrebounded OUAZ 50-29, and held the Spirit to a 21.6% clip from the field (11-51) en route to their third consecutive win.
“I’m really proud of how sharp we played all day,” said Westmont Head Coach Kirsten Moore. “On both ends of the floor, we were pretty consistent. On Thursday we had really good spurts but couldn’t sustain the energy or the focus level. Today, I thought we came in with the right focus and energy and kept it throughout the game.”
Individually, Stefanie Berberabe led the way with a game-high 21 points to go along with a game-high seven assists and seven rebounds. Behind Berberabe was Sydney Brown, who scored a season-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds.
Iyree Jarrett and Destiny Okonkwo were also in double-digits with 11 points each, while Aleena Cook contributed with nine points and eight rebounds. Kaitlin Larson had a big game on the boards as the senior led the club with 11 rebounds in only 15 minutes of play.
“Individually, there were a lot of great things,” noted Moore. “It was great to have Kaitlin Larson back in there, and to see her grab 11 boards was big. Stef’s overall line was great, and Syd was super-efficient, going 8-10 from the floor and getting it done on the boards as well.
“Destiny Okonkwo off the bench gave up a great spark on both ends of the floor. We track something we call ‘grit-goals’ and she led us in those today. She was making things happen.”
Laila Saenz picked up right she left off on Thursday night, and drained a 3-pointer to open the scoring as Westmont went on a 10-2 run in the game’s first five minutes. Coming out of a media timeout, Westmont kept their foot on the gas, ultimately outscoring OUAZ 22-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The beat went on in the second quarter as the Warriors outscored the Spirit 20-12, stretching their lead to 42-19 going into halftime. At intermission, all nine Westmont players to appear in the game at that point had scored, with Berberabe and Brown leading with nine each.
The Warriors forced the spirit to commit eight turnovers during the first half, and scored 11 points off of them while OUAZ was unable to capitalize on any of Westmont’s three turnovers.
At the end of the third quarter, Westmont led 64-27 as Okonkwo reached double-digits in scoring. Then, after being outscored 18-17 in the fourth quarter on Thursday, the Warriors kept their foot on the gas and outscored OUAZ 22-6 in the final period to cap off the day.
“We didn’t maintain our effort on Thursday, so it was nice to see us finish strong today,” said Moore. “That level of focus throughout 40 minutes is something we hadn’t put together all year yet, so it was nice to have going into next week when we have two huge games.”
Westmont continues their road trip back in southern California next Thursday, when they take on the Vanguard Lions at 5:30 p.m. in Costa Mesa. After next Thursday’s game, the Warriors will return to Murchison Gym to host Hope International Saturday night.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.