Second-ranked Westmont Women’s Basketball overcame a slow start to post its 13th win of the season and remain undefeated, taking down the Warriors of William Jessup (9-6, 4-2 GSAC) by a score of 65-47. The Warriors improved to 6-0 in Golden State Athletic Conference play to remain atop the GSAC standings.
“After a rocky start and a wake-up call, we locked in our defense,” acknowledged Westmont’s veteran head coach Kirsten Moore. “We forced 22 turnovers and got it done on the boards.”
Westmont outrebounded Jessup 43-34 including a 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Jessup took the early lead, going up 12-2 in the first five minutes of the opening frame. After a timeout called by Moore, Westmont responded with a 12-3 run in the remainder of the first quarter. Sage Kramer (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) hit a three from the left side before Paula Graichen (5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals) made a free throw and then hit a 13-footer to pull Westmont within four (12-8).
Stefanie Berberabe (15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) scored her first points of the game on a reverse layup making the score 12-10. After Jessup scored on a jumper and a free throw, Berberabe scored twice more – once on a layup and again on a five-foot jumper – resulting in a 15-14 lead by Jessup at the end of the first quarter.
A layup by Jessup’s Andrea Jovicevic restored a three-point advantage to Jessup to start the second quarter. Destiny Okonkwo (7 points, 8 rebounds) pulled Westmont within one after gathering an offensive rebound and connecting on the put-back. Then she connected on one of two free throws to tie the game at 17.
Kate Goostrey (12 points, 2 steals) gave Westmont its first lead of the night when she drained a long-range shot to make the score 20-17. After a triple by Jessup’s Maila Lepolo tied the game at 20, Berberabe passed the ball to a wide open Okonkwo under the basket. Her two-foot jumper put the Warriors up 22-20.
Jessup took its last lead of the game when Natalie Moulos connected on another 3-pointer. However, Bailey Fong (5 points) responded in kind to put Westmont back on top 25-23. A minute later, Fong beat the 30-second buzzer to put Westmont up by four. After a Jessup score, Westmont took a 27-25 lead into the locker room.
“It was definitely a night when things didn’t come easy, offensively,” said Moore. “We shot the ball terribly in the first half. We were able to step up our defense and continue to stay persistent on the boards even when we weren’t shooting it well. That started to open things up a little bit.”
The Maroon clad Warriors took control of the contest in the third quarter, outscoring the Warriors from Rocklin 26-10. Berberabe tallied seven points in the quarter while Goostrey and Laila Saenz added six each. By the end of the period, the Warriors held an 18-point lead (53-35), which proved to be the final margin of victory.
“Stef took over when we needed her to do so,” noted Moore. “Kate, at a key juncture, hit a couple of shots that really got us going. Sage had a double-double even though she was struggling with foul trouble. She was a big presence on the boards in addition to her ability to score. Paula, off the bench and in a bigger role, had a bunch of boards and a couple of steals. She played some important, great minutes for us.”
The Warriors remain in Northern California for a game against Menlo (9-6, 3-3) on Saturday at noon. Because of a wrestling tournament being held in Menlo’s Haynes-Prim Pavilion, the game will be held at Skyline Community College in San Bruno.
“Menlo is always a battle for us,” expressed Moore. “We are expecting that to be the case again. They are a dangerous team that is on a winning streak. They won their games going into Christmas in Hawaii and have some good momentum right now. We are going to have to regroup and play really well down there.”
Menlo defeated Providence of Montana (11-5) and Ozarks of Missouri (10-5) at the Hoops in Hawaii Classic prior to Christmas, then took down Simpson (9-6) on December 30. Menlo also posted a 90-77 win tonight against The Master’s (9-4, 3-3).
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.