Stephanie Berberabe
Stephanie Berberabe scored 8 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter. Her layup with 2:00 to play was the game winner. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

In a battle of top-five teams in Murchison Gymnasium, No. 5 Westmont  pulled out a 59-58 Golden State Athletic Conference women’s basketball win over No. 4 Vanguard on Stephanie Berberabe’s layup with 2:00 to play.

Senior Maud Ranger recorded a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to help lead the Warriors (8-2, 3-0 GSAC) to their third straight win.

“Maud’s leadership and toughness out there tonight led the way,” assessed Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “With the adversity we have had, she has had to move to a post position most of the time. She is doing it all with heart and toughness. She had some really huge boards down the stretch. Offensively, she got a streak going for us in the second half.

Ranger leads the Warriors in rebounding, averaging 8.8 boards per game.

“We were playing a really good Vanguard team tonight and found just enough to win by one,” said Moore.

The Warriors took a 22-18 lead in the opening 10 minutes. The second quarter didn’t go so well for the Warriors who were held to just five points by the Lions (5-2, 2-1). Vanguard tallied 11 points to take a 29-27 lead into the locker room at the intermission.

In the penultimate period, Westmont shooters connected for four 3-pointers, two by post player Kaitlin Larson. The sophomore recorded eight points and six rebounds on the night. The Warriors outscored the Lions 19-17 in the third quarter to even the score at 46.

The two teams traded buckets to start the final frame before the Lions went on a 6-0 run with a pair of layups by Michaella Elad and a jumper by Vanessa Murphy. Berberabe responded with a 6-0 run of her own on two jumpers and a layup, tying the game at 54 apiece with 4:35 to play.

Berberabe scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter. She also tallied five assists.

After a layup by Vanessa Murphy, Lauren Tsuneishi drained a three to put the Warriors up 57-56 with 3:12 remaining. Elad recaptured the lead for the Lions with a layup, making in 58-57 with 2:47 to play.

With 2:00 minutes showing on the game clock, Berberabe scored again, this time on a layup, to make the score 59-58 in favor of the Warriors. The defenses took over from there, with neither team scoring again.

“I am proud of how our whole team kept fighting,” said Moore. “It has become our identity. I know that is what I am going to get from them night in and night out.”

The game was one of the quickest in recent memory, taking just an hour and 49 minutes to complete. That was due mainly to only five fouls called on each team, and a limited number of turnovers.

“We are two pretty disciplined teams,” offered Moore. “Both teams were playing tough and gritty, but clean basketball. I have so much respect for Vanguard, their program and the success they have had over the years. There wasn’t a lot of turnovers and wasn’t a lot of fouls. I think both teams understood the importance of every possession.”

The Warriors committed just five turnovers while Vanguard totaled 11.

Vanguard head coach Russ Davis was unable to travel with the team due to health concerns.

“My heart has continued to be with Russ and the fight he has for his health,” said Moore. “I’m disappointed he couldn’t be here today. He is not far from my prayers.”

Westmont will take some time off for Christmas before returning to competition on Dec. 30 against Olivet Nazarene (Ill.). The game will be played in Santa Clarita at The Master’s.