Sophomore forward Angel Blanco made five of six field-goal attempts and recorded 15 points and six rebounds to help lead No. 16 Westmont to an 83-45 win over Hope International at Murchison Gymnasium on Saturday night. In the Golden State Athletic Conference match-up, Westmont (8-1, 1-1 GSAC) posted the first 13 points, including seven by Blanco to take control of the game early.

“We’ve been having great focused starts and we got off to a great start tonight,” said Westmont coach Kirsten Moore.

Hope International (0-5, 0-2 GSAC) finally got on the board with a jumper by Brittani Philbrook (14, 9 rebounds). The Royals battled back and narrowed the margin to six points (27-21) after Philbrook converted an old-fashion three-point play.

“We had a lull in the middle of the first half and let Hope make the game close,” Moore acknowledged. “We extended the lead by 11 at the half, but weren’t happy with the intensity of our effort in the first half, especially on the defensive end of the floor.”

Emerging from the locker room with a 40-29 advantage and renewed focus, the Warriors went on a 16-3 run in the first five minutes of the final frame.

“Our halftime talk was really helpful,” said freshman forward Emily Tewksbury who scored 14 points on six-of-seven shooting from the floor. “When we came out (in the first half) we didn’t have the intensity we needed to on hustle plays and especially on defense. But in the second half we really came together and brought the intensity.”

Tewksbury was one of two Warriors who lost their dorm rooms in last month’s Tea Fire while the team was in Helena, Mont., participating in the Mountain West Bank Classic at Carroll College.

“It was surreal,” Tewksbury said of the experience. “We received phone calls at dinner saying our campus is on fire and Clark (Resident Hall) was on fire. It was a horrible feeling the next morning when I woke up and had five message from members in my section (of the dorm) telling us that everything was gone.

“The school has been awesome in how it has dealt with the fire,” she said. “They couldn’t have dealt with it any better. That shows you the community base we really have. (President) Gayle Beebe was amazing. It has shown me the good that come from the bad.”

With 9:45 remaining in the second half, a Tewksbury lay-up extended the Warriors’ lead to a 30-point margin (68-38), but even then Westmont’s intensity did not let up. With 42 seconds remaining in the contest, freshman Paige Narum, playing in just her second game, gave Westmont its largest lead (38 points) and accounted for the final score. Narum, who was sidelined by injury for the Warriors’ first seven games, scored her first five collegiate points while also recording four rebounds and two steals.
A significant factor in Saturday’s game was the way in which Westmont took control of the boards, posting a rebounding advantage of 53-37. Westmont’s rebound tally is the fourth-highest single game mark in the program’s history.

Senior Annie Johnson led the Warriors with nine rebounds while junior post player Alisha Heglund pulled down eight boards and contributed 11 points. Johnson was also credited with three blocks.

Westmont next plays on Dec. 30 when the Warriors travel to Irvine to take on William Jewell (Mo.) on a neutral court as part of the Surf City Classic.