The defense came through again for No. 21 Westmont as the Warriors defeated Concordia in Irvine, 54-51. Westmont has allowed its opponents fewer points per game — 58.9 — than any other team in the Golden State Athletic Conference.
But the win did not come easily for Westmont (19-11 overall, 11-7 in GSAC play). The Warriors struggled from the floor, making only 37.5 percent (21 of 56) of their shots, including one of nine from beyond the arc. Sophomore post Alisha Heglund led the offensive effort with 14 points. She also recorded four rebounds. Sophomore guard Jessica Case added 13 points and three boards. Sophomore point guard Amber Steven scored 10 points while contributing seven assists and four rebounds.

A 9-0 run by Concordia gave the Eagles a 21-12 advantage with 5:15 to play in the first half. A Case layup and two free throws by senior forward Stephanie Anderson (six points, three rebounds) narrowed the margin to five (21-16) before Tyler Howard knocked down a jumper to make the score, 23-16, with 2:36 remaining on the clock. Westmont pulled to within three by halftime, 23-20, on baskets by Anderson and Case.

After shooting just 25.8 percent in the first half, the Warriors found their mark in the second, making 52.0 percent in the final frame. Down 27-23, Westmont produced a 12-2 run to take control, 35-29, with 15:16 showing on the clock.

Westmont maintained a single-digit lead until the Eagles’ Karen Carney (12 points, 10 rebounds) scored on a layup to give Concordia a 51-50 edge with two and a half minutes left in regulation. But Westmont would hold Concordia scoreless the rest of the way while Anderson and Case secured the win with two free throws and a layup, respectively.

Westmont stole the ball 11 times in the game and produced a 20-12 turnover advantage. Case led the Warriors with four steals while Anderson, Stevens and freshman Angel Blanco each had two. Junior Ali Mooty led Westmont with nine rebounds.

Westmont is currently in fourth place in the GSAC standings, a full game ahead of No. 16 The Master’s (18-8, 10-8). The Warriors will seek to record their 20th win of the season Saturday night when they host Hope International (17-13, 8-10) at Murchison Gymnasium.

The Master’s will travel to Montecito for the final game of the regular season Monday. The game will likely decide which of the two teams will finish in fourth place in the conference standings and therefore host the other in the first round of the GSAC Tournament on Wednesday.

Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.