Two days after No. 19 Westmont handed an 84-65 loss to No. 16 The Master’s, the Mustangs returned the favor, defeating the Warriors, 73-61, in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament.
Westmont (21-8), which earned the right to host Wednesday’s game by virtue of Monday’s win, now must prepare for the NAIA National Tournament that begins March 19 in Jackson, Tenn.
The Master’s (20-10) opened the game with a 7-0 run and never relinquished the lead. Westmont shot only 27.3 percet from the floor in the first half (nine of 33), including one of 13 from beyond the three-point line (7.7 percent). The Master’s made 14 of 33 attempts (42.4 percent) from the floor and out-rebounded the Warriors, 24-20.
“We are usually the team that is out-hustling and getting after it with great enthusiasm,” Warriors head coach Kirsten McKnight said. “We didn’t have that on the court in the first half tonight. A couple of things didn’t go our way early and we missed a couple of easy looks. We let that get us into a spiral and we stopped playing defense.
“We fixed that at halftime and we came out and played a good second half … There are some positive things we can take from that.”
After trailing, 39-27, at the intermission, Westmont played even with The Master’s in the second half, with each team scoring 34 points. Down 41-29, the Warriors produced a 14-4 run to make the score 45-43 with 11:07 remaining on the game clock. But the Mustangs charged back with a 16-4 run of their own to take a 14-point lead, 61-47, with 6:42 to play.
Still down 14 points nearly three minutes later, Westmont freshman Angel Blanco (eight points, nine rebounds) made a jumper and senior Stephanie Anderson (six points, two rebounds) connected on two three-point attempts to cut the deficit to 63-57 with 2:25 to play. But the Warriors would get no closer before time expired.
“We’ll bounce back and get refocused for nationals,” assured McKnight. “It’s a one game season now. We need to let this fire us up and fuel us for this next week of practice. We need to stay hungry to improve … so we go into nationals with confidence.”
Westmont will learn its opening-round opponent when NAIA tournament brackets are released March 12.
Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.