Westmont Women’s Basketball opened the 2023-24 season with a victory on Friday evening, defeating Saint Martin’s (0-1) by the score of 62-61.
“We have a lot of room to grow and we will continue to grow, but the biggest takeaway for me was our togetherness and our fight for one another out there,” Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore said. “It was selfless with everyone giving everything towards the greater goals. That felt really good.”
Three Warriors scored in double figures including Kate Goostrey and Sage Kramer who tallied 11 points each. Kramer added eight rebounds to her performance while Goostrey notched seven assists, four rebounds and four steals.
“Kate Goostrey was so important for us to have out there on the floor,” noted Moore.
Freshman Molly Garnand tallied 10 points for the Warriors, making four of five from the field.
Destiny Okonkwo added eight points to the Warrior cause while also pulling down six rebounds. Bailey Fong recorded seven points, three steals and three rebounds.
It was a close game throughout with neither team holding a double-digit lead at any point in the game. Tied at 25-all near the midway point of the second quarter, Garnand and Goostrey hit back-to-back triples to put Westmont on top by six.
However, a 9-2 run by the Saints gave Saint Martin’s a 34-33 advantage with 1:30 remaining before intermission. Fong and Navine Mallon responded with jumpers in the final minute to send the Warriors into the locker room with a 37-34 lead.
Scoring was scarce for both teams in the third quarter. Westmont jumped out to their largest lead of the night when a three from Fong, and a pair of layups by Okonkwo put the Warriors on top 44-36 with 5:56 remaining in the penultimate period.
However, the Saints stymied the Warrior offense the rest of the quarter and put up an 8-0 run to even the score at 44 heading into the final frame.
With the score tied at 46, Giulia Abraham drained a 3-point shot to give the Warriors the lead. A couple of Saint’s jumpers, however, gave Saint Martin’s its first lead since the end of the second quarter and a seesaw battle commenced.
Aleena Cook scored on a jumper in the paint to give Westmont a 51-50 advantage, but Lamet hit a jumper after an offensive rebound to put the Saints back on top.
A free throw by Cook tied the game at 52 with 5:49 remaining before Lamet scored again, to make it a 54-52 game. Kristan Yumul tied the game for the Warriors with a layup, then Lamet scored again, giving the Saints a 56-54 edge.
With just under three minutes remaining on the clock, Lauryn Morris connected on a jumper to stretch the Saint’s lead to four (58-54). Okonkwo responded with a layup before Fong stole the ball and scored to tie the game at 58 all.
With 1:52 to play, Cook fed the ball to Okonkwo in the lane. The senior’s layup put the Warriors ahead 60-58. Then, with just a minute to play, Kramer grabbed an offensive rebound and scored in the paint to put the Warriors in front by four, 62-58.
A 3-point shot by Kiana Rios made it a one-point game with 40 seconds left in regulation. The Warriors came up empty on their next possession and the Saints had the ball in their hands with 12 seconds left.
A Saints’ shot from beyond the arc bounced off the rim. As several players scrambled for the rebound, time expired, giving Westmont the win.
“We all know that this is going to be a growth process for this team this year,” offered Moore. “However, I was really proud down the stretch, especially of our senior leadership on the defensive end of the floor with Destiny and Aleena. They anchored us and got us stops down the stretch to lead that comeback.
“Offensively, Aleena made some incredible plays, finishing down the stretch with a tough layup. The next possession she had an incredible drive and wrap-around pass on the baseline to Destiny. They played with a lot of confidence and you could see their experience shining through down the stretch.
“Our rebounding in the second half was huge. In the first half, we were plus-two in rebounding margin and we ended up outrebounding them by 16. We had only four offensive boards in the first half. At halftime, we talked about making that second effort for those extra possessions and we ended up with 14 o-boards in the second half.”
The Warriors will play again tomorrow afternoon when they face off against their hosts, the Wolves of Western Oregon. The Wolves also tallied their first win of the year, defeating Academy of Art 94-74.
“Western Oregon had a great offensive game tonight,” said Moore. “We are playing them on their home court, on the road, and back-to-back. So it will be a big test of this team and our ability to regroup, quickly learn a new game plan and hopefully be able to go out and clean some things up offensively and, most importantly, defensively.
“We saw their firepower tonight, so we are going to have to play great defense and be really dialed in on that end of the floor.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.