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Basketball: Westmont Refuses to Quit in 69-66 Win over Menlo

Undefeated Warriors face CSU-East Bay for tournament title.

ATHERTON — Undefeated Westmont beat back a challenge from host Menlo for a 69-66 victory on the opening day of the Menlo College Thanksgiving Classic women’s basketball tournament Saturday. The Warriors face CSU-East Bay in Sunday’s championship game.

Menlo took a 62-61 lead on a pair of free throws by center Leah Manning with 3:18 to play, but the Oaks wouldn’t find the basket again until the final 10 seconds of the game.

Westmont, 6-0, took the lead for good on an Alisha Heglund field goal with just over two minutes left. Menlo went scoreless on its next two trips before the Warriors’ Amber Stevens sank a pair of free throws for a 65-62 advantage. Annie Johnson added another free throw to put Westmont up by two possessions with 29 seconds left.

Menlo’s Gianna Covarelli and Senoj Jones added last-gasp scores around a pair of free throws by Westmont’s Jessica Case, helping to give the Oaks half a chance after Stevens split two free throws with less than a second to play. Menlo’s inbounds pass was knocked away as time ran out.

Westmont took control early, taking its biggest lead of the game at 18-4 just five minutes into the first half. Menlo responded with a 17-4 run keyed by Manning and freshman guard Brittany Taylor, who each scored five points during the surge. Neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way.

Menlo took its first lead at 39-38 on a Manning basket three minutes into the second half. The Oaks’ biggest cushion came after a Covarelli 3-pointer and a Jones basket pushed their lead to 57-52 with 7:34 remaining.

Manning scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead Menlo. Covarelli and Jones added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Case led Westmont with 19 points while Heglund had 15, Stevens 12 and Ali Lomax 10.

Westmont plays CSU-East Bay in Sunday’s championship game. Menlo plays Grand View in the consolation.

Trent Sillanpaa is Menlo’s athletics media relations manager.

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