SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The fifth-ranked Westminster College (Utah) women's basketball team put on a defensive show in a 62-29 win over No. 4 Westmont (Calif.) in the final game of the GSAC Challenge on Saturday.
Westminster (12-2) held the host Westmont (8-3) to just 20.9 percent shooting and only nine baskets in the game. They matched a school record for fewest points allowed, 29, and set the record for fewest points allowed in a half by limiting the Warriors to just eight in the first half. The Griffins also forced 17 turnovers in the game and scored 23 points from them.
"I was really proud of the defensive effort tonight," head coach Shelley Jarrard said. "We felt we needed to step it up on that end tonight and once we did it just snowballed."
After each team traded baskets to start the game, Westminster put together a 16-0 run, anchored by five straight from Kelsi Wells and eight total during the stretch. In all they held the Warriors scoreless for over 11 minutes and forced them into 16 consecutive missed shots. The Griffins allowed just eight points in the first half, the fewest allowed in any half in school history, and led by 16 at the break.
The Griffins began the second half by scoring the first 10 points and 12 straight over a seven minute stretch spanning both halves. The run extended to 16-2 in the second half after a Cydney Tibbitts three at the 13:40 mark. Tibbitts scored nine points during the run and had six straight at one point. The Griffin reserves put the game away with a 7-0 run during a four-minute span to open up a 37-point lead with six minutes remaining in the game.
Offensively the Griffins were sharp as well. They finished the game by shooting 50 percent from the floor and made 7-of-17 from beyond the arc (41.2 percent). Westminster had 16 assists on the 25 made field goals and went 5-of-6 at the foul line. They also controlled the glass with a 33-28 advantage and had a 17-8 advantage in bench scoring.
Wells finished the game with a career-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting. She scored 13 of those points during the first half and she also grabbed six rebounds (three offensive) and made three from beyond the arc. Tibbitts added 15 points while grabbing a team-best eight rebounds. Every player scored for the Griffins except Nicole Yazzie who had a string of 110 consecutive games with at least one point come to an end.
"We really needed Kelsi to have this kind of game for us," Jarrard said. "She is capable of scoring and she was key for us tonight."
Kelsie Sampson led Westmont with 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. Tucage Canitez added eight points and a team-best eight rebounds.
"If you would have told me that we would go 12-2 against the schedule we have played I wouldn't have believed it," Jarrard said of the start to the season. "I am extremely proud of what we have done so far this season."
With the non-conference slate of games complete Westminster now moves into Frontier Conference action after the first of the year. They begin the new year in Lewiston, Idaho for a game at Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) on Jan. 3 at 6:30 p.m.