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College Basketball

McCoy Sets Career Scoring Record as Westmont Women Advance to Semis

(BILLINGS, Mont.) Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by senior forward Lauren McCoy with 18, as Westmont (25-6) advanced to the NAIA Women's Basketball Championship semifinals with a 65-54 win over MidAmerica Nazarene of Kansas (27-7). This is the first time the Warriors have reached the semifinals since 2105 when McCoy, Morgan Haskin and Jae Ferrin were freshmen.

"It feels like we are coming full circle," said McCoy. "Thinking back to what freshman year felt like, I don't think I realized what it meant to be (in the semifinals) as a freshman. We were just going out every day and playing as hard as we could and we ended up in the final four. We were very much the underdogs that year. It feels different this year knowing what it takes and knowing that you can't let up for a single second and then realizing the fruits of your efforts.

"It also feels like we have two more steps to take after today that we really want. We have to get the first one on Monday.

"Jae and Morgan and I have had so much come and go through our four years. To think back to the different teams we had been on and the different players that have come and gone, and to realize we are doing what we are with this group is remarkable. It feels great to show that at the end of the day it is the team that is going to do the little things, the team that will be a team and fight for each other day every day that will be rewarded."

Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore expressed her jubilance over the success of her senior players. "When the three seniors chose to come to Westmont, it was with a vision of doing big things. They had opportunities to go to a lot of different places to play. But they bought into who we are at Westmont – that we are about more than just basketball. We are about developing character and being representations of God. They have bought into that and worked so hard.

"The relentless effort you see from the seniors is a microcosm of what oozes out to their teammates every day in practice. Pretty soon, everyone learns to play with that kind of motor and play that hard all the time. They have taught our younger players how to do that. To get them back to the semifinals in their senior year brings me so much joy."

Among the rewards that McCoy has garnered is becoming Westmont's career scoring leader. After tonight's game she now has 1,503 points and has surpassed Aysia Shellmire (2013-17) who tallied 1,492 in her four-year career.

"My sister has been texting the past couple of games telling me how many points I need to reach the record," said McCoy. "I was like, 'Stop telling me, I don't want to know, I don't need that in my head at all.' It is pretty special to have that as an individual honor, but at the end of the day, there is no way I score those points without having four other people on the court making stuff happen.

"I think of all the perfect, crisp passes that Joy will get me and the screens from Maud that will get me open in the first place, and the fact that we have threats outside opening up lanes for me to drive or the fact that Morgan is such a threat inside that people can't come off of her. I am just appreciative of the other players that I have on the court with me."

The Warriors took control of the game early ending the quarter with a 23-10 advantage. Asked to account for their fast start, McCoy explained, "The coaches were up late last night, then we hit the ground running with a scout(ing report) and film session in the morning.

"We knew that this game was going to be different than the teams we had played the past two game. They were going to be bigger inside and maybe executing more plays and that they were going to be hanging their hat on particular players. We wanted to be attacking defensively and take away what they are used to getting.

"Offensively, we recognized that they had (defensive) weakness that we wanted to attack. We knew we could have the mental side of the game if we made them feel uncomfortable and put that seed of doubt in their minds right away. If we could take control of this game and be in the driver's seat the whole way, then that was going to be very beneficial to us."

MidAmerica responded in the second quarter by recording 24 points, but Westmont put up 20 of their own to take a 43-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Points were scarce for both teams in the third quarter. A jumper by Maud Ranger with 8:16 left in the quarter produced the only scoring Westmont would achieve until McCoy scored on an and-one play more than six minutes later. In the interim, the Pioneers had pulled to within two points (45-43).

"When they were scoring and getting on their run, we still had the confidence that we could shut them down because we had done that early," said McCoy. "We had to get back to our principles and get back to the things we know how to do well. We had to stay composed. This season, we had to learn to stay composed when the other team is making a run and learn that we can still be in control of the game even if things aren't going our way for a couple of possessions here and there."

McCoy's old-fashioned 3-pointer was followed by a layup from Haskin to give Westmont a 50-43 lead going into the final frame.

Twice in the fourth quarter, the Pioneers pulled to within three, but would get no closer. The Warriors made eight free throws in the final two minutes to secure the victory.

Joy Krupa notched a double-double for the Warriors with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Haskin, Lauren Tsuneishi and Ranger each added 10 points to the Warriors' cause.

On Monday, Westmont will take on Wayland Baptist of Texas (27-6). The Flying Queens advanced to the semifinals with a 68-44 over Vanguard who concluded their season with a record of 24-6. The only common opponents are the opponents which each team faced in the quarterfinals tonight.

Wayland Baptist played MidAmerica Nazarene on November 17 and won by a score of 78-55. Westmont played Vanguard three times this year, winning two out of the three meetings including the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship Game by a score of 48-46.

The Flying Queens are led in scoring by junior guard Maci Merket (14.5 points per game) and sophomore guard Kendrick Clark (10.6 points per game). Clark scored 16 against Vanguard and Merket added 15.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. local time (7:00 p.m. PDT).

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