SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Westmont (Calif.) Women's Basketball (18-3, 9-0 GSAC) took a big step toward the Golden State Athletic Conference regular season championship on Tuesday night when the No. 8 Warriors defeated No. 3 Vanguard (Calif.) (16-2, 7-2) for the second time this season - this time by a score of 70-58.
Senior forward Tugce Canitez, who earlier in the day had been named the NAIA Women's Basketball Player of the Week, posted 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Warriors. Sophomore guard Esther Lee added fourteen points; making four of seven from three-point range. Senior guard Larissa Hensley was also impressive, tallying nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Vanguard was led in scoring by senior forward Esther Timmermans with 26 points and junior guard Nicole Ballestero with 11.
Vanguard led most of the first half and took a 35-31 lead into the locker room at halftime. Westmont senior guard Jillian Wilber opened up the second half, however, with a three-point bucket to make it a one-point game. The Warriors and Lions, kept the score within two points over the next five minutes.
With 13:45 to play, Lee nailed a three-pointer to give Westmont a 44-42 advantage. Celina Gougis (seven points) scored on a jumper before Lee struck again to give Westmont a 49-42 lead. Vanguard scored the next six points on two layups by Timmermans and a jumper by Samantha Doucette but could not quite catch the Warriors.
Up by four with 1:22 to play, Lee sank her fourth three-pointer of the night to give the Warriors a 64-57 cushion. It proved to be the beginning of a 9-1 Warrior run that sealed the game for Westmont.
With five games left in the regular season, Westmont holds a two-game lead over Vanguard and #9 The Master's (21-2, 7-2) who are tied for second. The Master's was victorious at Concordia (5-17, 3-6) tonight, defeating the Eagles 91-63. San Diego Christian (13-12, 5-4) sits in fourth place in the GSAC after posting a 66-57 win over hosts Biola (11-13, 3-6). Hope International (11-3, 3-6) also picked up a road win, defeating Arizona Christian (4-17, 0-9) by a score of 91-58.
The Warriors will take to the road on Saturday, traveling to Fullerton for a 5:30 p.m. game with Hope International.