In a battle of undefeated teams with identical records, #2 Westmont Women’s Basketball (8-0, 3-0 GSAC) produced a convincing 71-45 win over #19 The Master’s (7-1, 2-1).
The Warriors literally led from the tip. The Mustangs were issued a technical file prior to the start of the game due to technical problems with the clock. Laila Saenz sank the resulting field goal, putting the Warriors up 1-0 before the first-quarter clock moved off of 10:00.
Saenz then scored on a jumper to put the Warriors up 3-1. After the Mustang’s Lexi Hernandez made two free throws, the Warriors went on a 16-0 run to take a 19-2 lead in the first six and one-half minutes of play. Sydney Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put-back to start the run before Kate Goostrey nailed two shots from 3-point distance. Sage Kramer then added another three before Stefanie Berberabe converted a couple of free throws. Berberabe then drained a long-distance bomb to complete the run.
The Mustang’s recorded their first field goal with 1:39 to play in the first half on a jumper by Marin Lenz before Brown scored on another put-back and Berberabe hit a jumper, making the score 23-4.
Kelly Lotz dropped in a three-point field for the Mustangs with 35 seconds remaining in the opening frame to make it a 24-7 game. The Master’s would not make another 3-pointer until the 7:29 mark in the fourth quarter. Westmont went 11 of 23 (47.8%) from beyond the arc.
After Berberabe scored on a layup, Ella Brubaker did the same for the Mustangs, bringing the first quarter to a close with Westmont holding a 25-9 advantage.
“I think Stef and Syd, with their experience playing here, had our team really focused,” offered Westmont’s head coach Kirsten Moore. “Any returner remembers that we didn’t leave this gym the way we wanted to last year. We focused on playing good defense. We talked about coming out and trusting our defense and having that spark everything else.
“If you look at the steals and deflections and things we created on the defensive end, that is why you see such success on the offensive end.”
The second and third quarters looked much the same with Westmont outpacing The Master’s 18-9 and 19-10 respectively to take a 62-28 lead into the final frame. With the game in hand, Kirsten Moore unloaded her bench and gave four of her starters the fourth quarter off (Berberabe, Brown, Saenz and Kramer).
Westmont’s largest lead came with 8:45 remaining in regulation when Giulia Abraham drained a three to give Westmont a 37-point advantage (65-28).
Berberabe led the Warriors in scoring with 16 points to go with six rebounds, five assists and three steals in 25 minutes of work.
Berberabe’s 16 points gives her 1400 points for her career and moves her into fourth place on Westmont’s career scoring list.
Brown played 22 minutes, tallying 11 points and five rebounds. Saenz played just 13 minutes, but scored nine points. Kate Goostrey also had nine points and dished off four assists. Kramer added eight points and four rebounds while Aleena Cook produced seven points, nine rebounds and three steals. Destiny Okonkwo added another eight rebounds.
As a team, the Warriors outrebounded the Mustangs 47-39 including 21-5 on the offensive glass. Westmont forced 25 Mustangs turnovers while committing only eight. Seven different Warriors were credited with steals, for a team total of 14.
“Master’s is a lot longer than us at every position,” noted Moore. “To get it done on the boards the way we did tonight shows a relentless effort by our players. Aleena did a good job for us defensively.”
The Warriors will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Fullerton to take on Hope International. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We expect a good Hope team,” said Moore. “They have talented players back from last year and a great new coach and Warrior alum – Jessica Case – who will know us well. We are excited for the opportunity to go on the road and play those guys.”
Case, who played for the Warriors from 2006-2010, is tied for fifth in career scoring in the Westmont record books with 1,347 points.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.