Farias leads Warriors’ second-half surge

Vanessa Farias scored 21 points, including seven during a Warrior 20-0 second-half run, to help lead Westmont Women’s Basketball to a 67-62 Golden State Athletic Conference win over San Diego Christian on Saturday night. The sophomore guard, who made eight of 12 attempts from the floor, also tallied three assists.

With the win, the Warriors improve to 12-4 overall and 4-4 in conference play. The Hawk’s fall to 6-10 and 1-7 in the GSAC standings.

“We knew tonight was going to be a battle,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “San Diego Christian has been playing teams very tough and we were expecting that tonight. We played great defense in the first half but struggled putting the ball in the basket.”

San Diego Christian, which leads the GSAC in steals at 13.27 per game, pressed the Warriors from the onset of the game.

“We knew they were going to have great defensive pressure,” said Moore. “In the first half we played into that a bit and got rushed a little bit more offensively than we needed to. So we talked at halftime about making sure we are squeezing the ball and pivoting, taking our time and taking care of the basketball. I give a lot of credit to (San Diego Christian) for how hard they play.”

The Warriors scored a mere 23 points in the first half but held the Hawks to just 15. In the first four and one half minutes of the second half, San Diego Christian outscored the Warriors 17-7 to go up 32-30

“When they took the lead, I think that woke us up with a sense of urgency,” said Moore. “We went on big run sparked by Vanessa Farias.”

It was over the next five minutes and change that the Warriors put together their 20-0 run to post a 50-32 advantage with 9:27 to play.

But the Hawks did not give up. Trailing by 14 with two minutes left in regulation, Brittany Robinson (18 points) drained a three and Jasmine Thomas (8 points, 5 assists) scored on a layup to make the score 61-52 with 1:43 remaining.

After two missed shots on Westmont’s end of the court, Michelle Gonzalez (11 points, 9 rebounds) was fouled and sank two free throws to draw the Hawks within seven points (61-54) with 56 seconds left on the clock.

At the 45 second mark, Farias drained a three which Robinson tried but failed to duplicate on the Hawks’ next possession. That gave Westmont a ten point advantage and the ball with 37 seconds left. Farias was quickly fouled by Gonzalez and made one of two free throw attempts to stretch the Warrior advantage to 11 (65-54) with 34 seconds remaining.

Five seconds later, Robinson was fouled and made both of her attempts. This time, it was Robinson who quickly fouled Faria. However, Farias did not covert on either attempt from the charity stripe. The Hawks’ Heather Serven tossed up a three point attempt which missed, but Gonzalez pulled down the offensive board, stepped behind the arc and scored to reduce the margin to 65-69 with 17 seconds to go.

After a Westmont turnover, Sabrina Jimenez nailed another thre-pointer for the Hawks, making it a one possession game (65-62) with 12 second to play. Serven fouled Katie Kittle (10 points) three seconds later sending Kittle to the line to shoot two. Kittle sank both, and the Warriors were up 67-62. That proved to be the end of the scoring as the Hawks were able to launch just one more shot – a three-pointer – but could not get the ball to drop through the net.

A good sign for the Warriors was the return of Larissa Hensley to the Warrior lineup.

“Larissa did a great job,” said Moore. “It was great having her back from an injury. It helped with our rotations. I thought she played well tonight in her first night out.

“Real important for us was how we did on the boards. We out rebounded them by 12 (48-36). We were led in that area by Angel Blanco who had a double-double with 12 rebounds and 10 points.”

Westmont will play again on Tuesday when they will host the Sunbirds of Fresno Pacific (7-11, 0-8 GSAC) beginning at 5:30 p.m.