After a slow start, #5 Westmont Women’s Basketball (18-3, 11-2) found its rhythm in the second half and produced a 70-39 win over the Hawks of San Diego Christian (7-15, 4-10). Iyree Jarrett and Stefanie Berberabe led the way offensively for the Warriors, tallying 18 and 16 points respectively.

“We have to be better in the first half than we were today,” acknowledged head coach Kirsten Moore. “I thought we made the adjustment we needed in the second half and closed the game out well in the fourth quarter.”

The first quarter saw the Warriors slowly build an 18-7 lead, culminating with a 3-point bucket by Haylie Dermer. In the second quarter, however, the Hawks outscored the Warriors 15-9, resulting in a 27-22 halftime lead.

“Our intensity, defensively, wasn’t where it needed to be and they were able to hit a bunch of shots that we shouldn’t have allowed,” said Moore. “Credit the Hawks – they came out without their leading scorer and played really well.”

The second half was a different story. Midway through the third quarter, the Warriors led 35-32 before going on an 11-2 run. After two free throws by Kaitlin Larson, Berberabe scored on a layup before Larson did the same. Jarrett finished out the run with a 3-point field goal followed by a layup.

Up 46-34 headed into the final frame, the Warriors outpaced the Hawks 24-5 in the fourth quarter, fueled by a 13-0 run.

Destiny Okonkwo led the Warriors on the boards with 10 rebounds. She also tallied four blocks and two steals. Gabriella Stoll recorded nine points, sinking a trio of threes from long distance, and added three rebounds. Sydney Brown added eight points and six rebounds.

The win clinches a first-round bye for the Warriors in the upcoming GSAC Championships, which will be held February 23-26 at The Master’s. The top six teams in the GSAC standings at season’s end will receive a first-round bye.

Following the game, the Warriors received the news that Hope International (22-2, 12-2) had defeated The Master’s (22-2, 11-2) by the score of 72-62. With that result, the Royals moved into first place in the conference, one-half game ahead of Westmont and The Master’s who are tied for second.

That sets up a first-place showdown when Westmont and Hope International play on Saturday night in Fullerton at 5:30 p.m. If the Warriors prevail, they will move ahead of the Royals in the standings and claim at least a share of the conference lead.