WBK: Vanguard ends Warriors’ win streak in GSAC Championship

IRVINE – Westmont Women’s Basketball suffered its first loss of 2013 on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, it came in the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game. The Warriors (25-4), ranked at number three in the NAIA, fell to No. 8 Vanguard (23-3) by a score of 63-57.

The loss brought to an end a program record 17-game winning streak and may cost the Warriors a number one seed in next week’s NAIA National Tournament.

The game started on a 6-0 Warrior run comprised of two free throws by Kelsie Sampson (8 points, 5 rebounds), a tip-in by Tugce Canitez (19 points, 12 rebounds) and a jumper by Celina Gougis (10 points, 9 rebounds).

Vanguard responded with a 6-0 run of their own before Westmont scored the next four points on a layup by Sampson and a jumper by Gougis. Vanguard then tied the score at 10 apiece and the teams remained within six-point of each other for the next six minutes.

Up 27-25 with five and one-half minutes remaining in the first half, Vanguard produced a 10-2 run to take a 37-27 lead. At the half, the Warriors trailed 39-31.

Five and one-half minutes into the second half, Westmont drew to within four points on a three-pointer by Esther Lee (15 points), a jumper by Vanguard’s Alison Drennan (9 points, 11 rebounds) made it 49-43 before Canitez connected from beyond the arc. A layup by Sampson then cut the margin to a single point (49-48) with 12:50 to play.

Vanguard rebuilt a six point lead (54-48) with a three-pointer and a jumper by Nicole Ballestero (22 points, 9 rebounds). However, Lee connected again from three-point range, Lauren Sende (2 points, 5 rebounds) and Canitez both made layups and the Warriors were on top 55-54 with 9:15 to play.

Ballestero and Gougis traded a pair of free throws each, and the Warriors led 57-56 with 5:20 to play. It proved to be the Warriors last lead and last points of the night.

The Warriors will learn on Wednesday what seed the will have in the national tournament and whom their first round opponent will be. The tournament will be held in Frankfort, Kentucky beginning on March 13.