WBK: Warriors take step into GSAC final

Westmont's Jillian Wilber drives to the basket on Friday and draws a shooting foul.

Westmont’s Jillian Wilber drives to the basket on Friday and draws a shooting foul.

The Hawks of San Diego Christian (17-15) brought something a little different into Murchison Gymnasium on Friday night for their game with top-seeded and third-ranked Westmont (25-3). In the end, however, the bottom line looked familiar as the Warriors prevailed 62-47 in the Golden State Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinal game.

The Hawks tried to slow the potent Westmont offense by simply giving it fewer opportunities to score. When brining the ball up court, San Diego Christian frequently used half the shot clock in the back court. The Warriors found themselves having to adjust to the surprise stall tactics on the fly.

“It was a different strategy that the opponent brought at us,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “We haven’t seen a team try to run clock, slow the game down and make it a possession game.”

The Hawks met with some success early on and held a seven-point lead (18-11) 13 minutes into the first half. Westmont managed to cut the deficit to four at halftime (26-22) but the real turnaround came in the second half.

The Warriors held Hawks scoreless for the first eight and one-half minutes of the second half and without a field goal for more than nine and one-half minutes. A 19-1 run to start the second half put the Warriors in the driver’s seat.

“I’m proud that my team didn’t get frustrated and found a way in to play our game,” said Moore. “We were able to created turnovers and finish in transition. We got the tempo picked up.”

While Westmont’s field goal percentage increased from 25.0 percent in the first half to 61.9 percent in the second half, the key stat might be in Westmont’s 50-28 advantage in rebounding.

“I can’t say enough about our effort on the boards or about our defensive,” said Moore. “Defense and rebounding wins championships. Our players were able to stay focus and make sure that we finished possession with rebounds. A lot of those rebounds led to transition opportunities for us.”

Senior Tugce Canitez produced 27 points and pulled down 20 rebounds while Kelsie Sampson delivered a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“I think it was a frustrating game for Tugce with its physicality,” said Moore. “She had to score in more unconventional ways, but she found a way to get it done.”

With the win, Westmont advances to the GSAC Tournament Championship game on Tuesday at Concordia. The Warriors will take on Vanguard (22-3) who defeated Biola (16-17) by a score of 78-55 in the other semifinal

“Vanguard is an excellent team and we have had two great battles with them already,” said Moore. “We know that we are going to have to bring our best effort mentally, physically and emotionally. It will be great battle. I hope that it is a lot of fun and that both of us can represent the GSAC well as we play for a conference championship.”