By Kaci Mexico
March 8, 2016
Westmont Women’s Basketball (29-3) shot at 62.5 percent from the three-point line and at 47.8 from the field in the second half to claim a 67-58 victory over Vanguard (24-6) in the Championship game of the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Warriors, who were already the regular season champions, are now the GSAC Tournament Champions. “This feels amazing,” said GSAC Player of the Year, Krissy Karr. “It is definitely a goal we had and especially after we won league, we were set on winning the GSAC tournament too.”
“I am just really proud of our players,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “We push them so hard all year for moments like this so that they are ready and prepared, and they came through when they needed to tonight.”
Within the first two minutes, the Warriors went on a 9-2 run to take an early lead. After winning the tip off Aysia Shellmire drove towards the basket, drew the foul, and made the subsequent free throws. Vanguard then embarked upon their first possession of the game, but Karr stole the ball and handed it off to Shellmire, who hit a jump shot. Cora Chan followed with a layup, Vanguard’s Samantha Doucette piped in with a jump shot, and Aimee Brakken added a three-pointer.
The Lions roared back with an 8-2 run to come within one (13-12). Vanguard began the second quarter with another 8-2 run to take what would be their largest lead of the game (20-24).
The Warriors responded with a ten point run to earn a lead that they would not relinquish for remainder of the game. Brakken hit a three-pointer, Morgan Haskin put up a layup and two free throws, and Karr added a three-pointer. The first half ended with the Warriors ahead by only one point (32-31).
In the first half, the Warriors shot at 37.9 from the field, where as the Lions shot at 46.4.
“I was struggling a bit in the first half with shooting which got to me a bit,” explained Karr, “but I knew I just needed to keep shooting. We all weren’t shooting our best in the first half, so we knew it had to be better than that so we just kept shooting confidently in the second half.”
Karr had five points in the first half, and more than doubled this when she scored 13 points in the second half. She was the game’s leading scorer with a total of 18 points. Karr also had six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
“I thought Krissy did a great job maintaining composure and just leading us out there on the floor,” noted Moore. “She made really good decisions and knocked down shots when we needed her to.”
Two other Warriors scored in the double figures. Lauren McCoy had a double-double, putting up 11 points and pulling down ten rebounds. She also had two assists, one block and one steal. Shellmire had 12 points, one rebound and a block.
“I thought our bench tonight was awesome,” noted Moore. “With two of our best players in foul trouble in the first half, Morgan Haskin came off the bench and was amazing and had a great presence for us. Kayla Sato was great all game and Lauren Sende’s leadership was great as well. People were ready when they needed to be and I am really proud of the composure that they all showed.”
Haskin put up eight points and pulled down one rebound; Sato had four points and eight rebounds; and Sende had two rebounds. Cora Chan was also a key contributor with eight points, two rebounds, and four assists.
The Warriors and Lions traded baskets for the majority of the third quarter and embarked upon the final quarter with the Warriors ahead by only three points (48-45).
The Warriors improved this lead to ten, after they went on a 13-4 point run that began with the start of the fourth quarter and lasted for six minutes (61-51). Kayla Sato ignited the run with a three-pointer and Vanguard’s Claire Lamunu and Kandyce Smith answered with a jump shot each. Then Chan hit a three-pointer, McCoy followed with a layup, Karr added a three-pointer, and McCoy finished with another layup.
The Lions attempted to close the gap but fell short, as the Warriors clung on to their lead for the remainder of the game.
Karr talked about how the well-rounded nature of this Warrior team makes them successful.
“I think we are very balanced – if you try to double team Aysia, McCoy, or myself, then you are leaving Cora, Brakken, or Sato wide open. Teams have to decide what they are going to try and take away from us – so I just think that speaks to how well-balanced our team is and also speaks to how anyone can step up on a given night.”
Coach Moore is looking to build off of this game as the Warriors look ahead to the NAIA National Tournament.
“We are excited that this can propel us out to the national tournament,” said Moore. “Every game there is tough. That first game has usually been one of our hardest games and so all we are focused on is one game and trying to take this momentum, continue to learn from both the things we did good and things we can improve on and stay focused and hungry to have a great national tournament.”
The Warriors will now wait until tomorrow to learn their seeding in the upcoming NAIA National Tournament. The tournament will begin next Wednesday in Independence, Missouri.