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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 9:23 pm | Light Rain 52º

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College Basketball

Hot-Shooting LSU-Alexandria Ousts Westmont at NAIA Women’s National Tournament

Westmont Basketball saw its season come to an end in the first round of the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament. The Warriors fell to the Generals of Louisiana State, 70-59, in Billings, Mont.

"Obviously, today was not how we wanted it to go," said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. "I thought our defense let us down tonight. That is where we have been really good. We learned throughout the year how to compete defensively, but we weren't able to do that tonight at the level you need to do so to win at the national tournament. If you don't play defense, you are not going to win here."

The Warriors (24-8) were outgunned by the Generals who shot 52.0 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from three-point range. Westmont made just 33.9 percent of their field goal attempts, including just 23.8 from three-point range.

"It's not that our team wasn't trying," clarified Moore, "but we needed to find ways in those situations to take away the other team's strength. We weren't able to do that with their posts tonight."

Things started well for the Warriors who jumped out to an 8-2 lead on a three-pointer by Lauren Tsuneishi (6 points), a pair of buckets by Sydney Brown (13 points, 13 rebounds) and a free throw by Kaitlin Larson (14 points, 7 rebounds). The Generals pulled to within one with an 8-3 run that concluded with a layup by Aja Law. The freshman forward tallied a career high 27 points for LSU Alexandria.  

Westmont closed out the first quarter with a 6-2 run courtesy of a field goal by Stefanie Berberabe (15 points) and two free throws each by Maud Ranger (5 points) and Tsuneishi.

The second quarter saw the Generals take their first lead of the game (19-17) on back-to-back three-pointers by Courtney Dawsey (15 points). Berberabe drained a three to give the lead back to Westmont (20-19). However, it proved to be the last lead the Warriors would hold. 

After a couple of free throws by Dawsey, Law scored twice in the paint to put the General's ahead by five (25-20). A jumper by Lawson made the score 25-22 before Law struck again to restore LSU Alexandria's five-point advantages.

Iyree Jarrett (6 points) scored the game's next four points on a pair of free throws and a layup to pull the Warriors to within one (27-26), but with 14 second remaining in the first half, Ciera Daniels scored on a jumper to give the Generals a 29-26 halftime lead. 

In the third quarter, a three-pointer by Natalie Alaniz put the Generals up by six (32-26) before Ranger responded with a three to bring the Warriors back to within three (32-29) with 8:53 to play in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Warriors, it was the last field goal they would score for more than six and one-half minutes.

The Generals went on a 14-1 run to take a commanding 46-30 lead with 2:50 remaining in the third frame. With 2:13 showing on the clock, Brown got the Warriors scoring again on a layup. Larson followed with a free throw and then a three-point bomb to cut the deficit to 46-36 with 1:10 to play in the penultimate period. Four free throws reduced the margin to six (46-40) with three seconds left in the third quarter. However, Brittany Hall drove the floor and fired off a three from the top of the key to make the score 49-40 going into the fourth quarter.

Three and one-half minutes into the final frame, the Generals had an eight-point advantage at 58-50. Stefanie Berberabe scored on a pair of layups to pull the Warriors within four points (58-54). After Courtney converted an and-one play on the other in, Berberabe drove the lane again, making the score 61-56 with 5:15 to play. 

On the General's next possession, Law scored from the paint but Berberabe scored again and returned the margin to just five points 63-58 with 4:46 to play. Except for a late free throw by Larson, however, that would be the last time Westmont would score as the Generals closed out the game on a 7-1 run.

"We made some good runs," said Moore. "We have a bunch of fighters on our team. We were scrappy and we fought back, but we couldn't get over the hump. We'd make a run and we couldn't get the critical stop we needed to get to the next one.

"The choice that we have now is to choose to have this fuel us to get better in the offseason," said Moore, "to choose to have this make us a better team and make us better individuals so that way we can earn our way back here next year and win in a similar situation. We have a really bright future ahead of us."

The Warriors graduate just one senior this year – Roberta Hays.

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