No. 18 Warriors overcome Eagles in GSAC opener

Westmont’s Jessica Case closed out Concordia at Murchison Gym on Thursday, scoring a game-high 22 points while making six free throws in crunchtime during an 85-69 victory in the Warriors’ GSAC opener.

“I love pressure shots. I love pressure situations,” said Case, the Warriors’ leading scorer.

Case connected on 6-of-10 from the field and was a perfect 8-for-8 at the line.

Her last six free throws came in the final three minutes, critical to breaking the Eagles’ spirit. The Warriors outscored Concordia 25-12 over the final 7:23.

Amber Stevens and Larissa Hensley (11) work on defense.

Amber Stevens and Larissa Hensley (11) work on defense.

“One of the things we learned from our tough loss last week was not to leave games  until right at the end because anything really can happen,” said Warriors head coach Kirsten Moore, referring to the team’s freak last-second 75-74 loss at Redlands.

After Concordia’s Karen Carney scored on a layup to pull the Eagles to 60-57 with seven minutes to go, Moore called a timeout and urged her players to finish off the Eagles as soon as possible.

With just under four minutes to go, Katie Kittle hit a 3-point shot to give the Warriors a 70-61 lead. Alisha Heglund’s layup on Westmont’s next possession gave her two of 17 points on the night. From there, Westmont scored its final 12 points on free throws, dropping 12-of-13 to extend the final margin.

Angel Blanco posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

“We decided to come out in the second half and just show everyone, including ourselves, how bad we wanted it,” Blanco said, savoring the conference win against a previously unbeaten opponent.

Concordia took its first loss, falling to 6-1, 1-1 GSAC.

Amber Stevens struggled shooting the ball, but contributed seven rebounds and eight assists while managing an offense that recorded more assists (12) than turnovers (10).

Westmont improves to 5-1 overall and travels to Hope International for its next game on Saturday.