March 14, 2012
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With the win, the Griffins will advance to Friday’s 10:45 a.m. second-round game where they’ll play Oklahoma City University. The Stars, who beat Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) 91-73 Wednesday morning, are the No. 1 team in the country entering the tournament.
Westminster (23-8) looked like a team that could challenge the Stars on Friday. It used defensive pressure to force Belhaven into shooting only 32.8 percent overall and 1-of-17 from the arc in the game.
The Griffins led 14-12 when they went on a quick 9-0 run. The 2:08 stretch saw freshman Shelby Ellsworth score the first four points and when junior guard Nicole Yazzie nailed a 3-point shot with 5:07 left, the lead had reached double figures for the first time at 23-12.
Yazzie, who hit 4-of-8 3-point shots in the game, finished with 18 points and a game-high seven assists in the win.
Leading 31-19 at the half, Westminster slowly stretched the lead to 63-47 before outscoring Belhaven 12-2 in the last 3:34 to expand the lead to its apex. Yazzie again played a key role, having six of the dozen to build the lead to its largest point at the end.
Belhaven (26-3), making its second-consecutive appearance in the tournament, had two players reach double figures in the game. Senior Regena Jackson, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 24.3 points per game, tossed in 14 while senior Kiara Johnson added 12.
Yazzie was joined by a pair of teammates in double figures in the win. Junior forward Cydney Tibbitts recorded fifth double-double of the season with game highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Ellsworth came off the bench for 14.