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College Basketball

Big Defensive Plays Down Stretch Enable Westmont Women to Win GSAC Opener

William Jessup led for more than 31 minutes of the game,  but Westmont found a way to win the Golden State Athletic Conference women's basketball opener on Thursday and took a 58-56 victory at Murchison Gym.

"It was a super tough and fun GSAC game," said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. "Every team (in the conference) this year is really good, really competitive and is going to battle. Jessup had the advantage for much of the game. Our experience showed through in the end – knowing how to gut things out and win plays down the stretch. We made a lot of big plays when we needed to on the defensive end and on the offensive end. It was a toughness and grit game."

Westmont (8-4, 1-0) shot just 29.2 percent from the field (19 of 65) to Jessup's 45.5 percent (20 of 44), and was outrebounded by a 42-36 margin. However, Westmont forced 18 turnovers while committing just three. Westmont also tallied 21 points from the three-point line compared to nine for their opponents from Rocklin.

Jessup (9-7, 0-1 GSAC) outscored Westmont by one point in each of the first three quarters to take a 48-45 lead into the final frame. Ashlyn Jones drained a jumper on the first possession to extend Jessup's advantage to five (50-45). A minute and one-half later, a jumper by Emilee Van Dyke gave Jessup its largest lead of the night 52-45.

Over the next five minutes, Westmont went on a 9-0 run to go ahead 54-52. It was the home team's first lead since near the end of the first quarter. A jumper by Jae Ferrin and a 3-pointer from Maud Ranger put Westmont within two (52-50). Lauren McCoy then stole the ball off a Jessup defensive rebound and shot from just outside the key to tie the game and 52.

Ferrin then came up with a big steal on the offensive end and completed a fast-break layup to put the Warriors ahead (54-52) with 2:58 remaining on the game clock. 

With 1:34 to play in regulation, Jessup's Olivia Luu hit a jumper to tie the game at 54. Joy Krupa was fouled on the next Westmont possession and sank both free throw attempts to put Westmont back on top 56-54 with 1:24 to go.

Ten seconds later, Luu scored what would prove to be Jessup's final points, tying the game at 56. With just 36 seconds to go, McCoy was fouled and made one of two attempts from the charity stripe to give Westmont a 57-56 lead. 

Morgan Haskin then came up big defensively, blocking an attempted layup by Anisah Smith and collecting the rebound. A series of three fouls followed as Jessup attempted to send Westmont to the bonus and the free-throw line. Haskin was fouled with eight seconds remaining and made one of two attempts to account for the final score. 

"Morgan's play showed experience," said Moore. "She struggled for most of the game. She struggled to score like she is capable of scoring and struggled defensively with fouls. However, she stayed with it and stayed ready. When we needed her, she stepped up with a huge block."

Ranger led the Warriors in scoring, tallying 14 points while making four of seven attempts from beyond the arc. McCoy added 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Ferrin and Cassidy Tiegs each added eight points with Ferrin notching nine boards.

Jessup was led in scoring by Jones who collected 13 points and nine rebounds.

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