Westmont Women’s Basketball, ranked second in the NAIA, started the 2022-23 campaign by defeating #22 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) on Saturday afternoon by a score of 81-73.
“Overall, I was extremely pleased to be able to go on the road against such a great team and find a way to win,” expressed Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “LC State (0-1) is going to have a great year. They had a ton of returners from a great team last year.”
Junior guard Laila Saenz led all scorers with 22 points, recording half of Westmont’s 10, 3-point field goals. Senior guard Stefanie Berberabe notched a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists. She also had six rebounds and three steals.
“We came in aggressive,” reported Moore. “The difference for us is what we were able to do on the boards in creating extra possessions. We outrebounded them 49-26. They are a long team – taller than us at most positions. Yet, we had it as one of our goals to be relentless on the boards. I was proud of our effort there.
“We certainly learned so much and so many areas we have to get better at. However, I am pleased by the fact that we came in, competed as hard as we did, and found ways to win.”
LC State jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first quarter before Saenz kicked off a 15-2 Westmont run by burying her first 3-pointer. Freshman guard Sage Kramer (11 points) completed the run with the first three of her collegiate career. She would connect for two more before the game was done.
“Laila is back and healthy and did a great job out there for us,” noted Moore. “I thought Sage played well off the bench. There were a number of different people who stepped in and contributed as well. Shooting the ball is a way we can be really dangerous.
“We had a huge amount of contribution off the bench, outscoring them 30-17 on bench points,” stressed Moore. “That is going to be a big benefit for us. There are so many different people on our team that can contribute in different ways. In different games we will need different things.”
The first quarter run put Westmont on top 19-12. LC State never reduced the margin by more than five points the rest of the game. At halftime, Westmont held a 42-33 advantage. Westmont’s lead continued to grow throughout the third quarter. A jumper by Aleena Cook (12 points, 6 rebounds) one minute into the final frame gave Westmont its largest lead of the game at 66-48.
“Stef was out there running point,” reported Moore. “She does so much and creates so much, but that only happens if she has people around her.”
Sydney Brown led the Warriors efforts on the boards with nine rebounds. Cook and Destiny Okonkwo each added another six.
“There is lots to be excited about, as we move forward, and lots to work on still,” assessed Moore. “But it is exciting to get out and start competing and start learning what we need to be working on to get better – to build on toward what we want to be at the end of the year.”
Westmont concludes its first road trip of the year by making the 33-mile trip north to Pullman, Washington for an exhibition game with the Cougars of Washington State on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.