MERCED — Iyree Jarrett drained 29 points to help lead the No. 1 Westmont women’s basketball team (1-0) to a 71-55 win over UC Merced in the Warriors’ season opener on Saturday afternoon.
Jarrett’s tally was the second-highest single game total of her Westmont career. She made 10 of 16 shots from the field, including three of seven from 3-point range. She also went six of eight from the charity stripe.
Stefanie Berberabe notched 19 points for the Warriors along with four steals and four assists during the game in Merced. The senior guard made seven of 15 attempts.
Laila Saenz, playing in her first countable game as a Warrior, notched 11 points.
Destiny Okonkwo and Sydney Brown led Westmont on the boards with 11 and nine rebounds respectively. Both players added five points to the Warriors’ cause.
The Bobcats jumped out to a 7-0 lead to start the game before the Warriors flipped the script. Westmont’s first points came courtesy of a pair of free throws from Okonkwo midway through the first quarter.
Then a pair of threes by Berberabe and Jarrett pulled the Warriors to within one (9-8). Another three by Jarrett gave Westmont its first lead (11-9) with 3:32 in the opening frame.
At the end of the first 10 minutes, Westmont was up 14-12.
In the second quarter, the Warriors outscored the Bobcats 24-12.
After an opening 3-pointer by Julina Fletes gave Merced a 15-14 advantage, the Warriors scored the next 12 points — eight by Berberabe and four by Jarrett — to take the score to 26-15. Over the rest of the second period, Westmont outscored Merced 12-9 to take a 38-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Westmont took its biggest lead of the third quarter (45-29) when Brown connected on a layup with 7:48 to play. However, the Bobcats began to whittle away at Westmont’s advantage and pulled within seven (56-49) when Haylee Owen sank a three near the end of the period.
Three minutes into the final frame, the Bobcats were still within seven points (60-53). That was before the Warriors ran off 10 unanswered points. Jarrett got the run started with a pair of layups before Okonkwo added a free throw. Berberabe added another free throw, then scored on a jumper. Saenz added two more free throws to make the score 70-53 with 43 second remaining in regulation. The rest of the scoring was accounted for from the free throw lines.
Saturday’s win was the 28th in a row for the Warriors against NAIA opponents and the 30th in a row against non-NCAA Division I opponents. The streak began on Jan 23, 2020.
Next week, the Warriors will travel to Eugene, Ore., for a match-up with No. 22 Bushnell (formerly Northwest Christian University) on Thursday before taking on the Ducks of Oregon on Saturday in an exhibition.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.