WBK: Lee’s threes carry Westmont, 77-54

Junior guard Esther Lee was in the zone Tuesday night as she buried a school-record 11 of 15 three-point field goals and scored 36 points to lead Westmont to a 77-54 women’s basketball win over Wayland Baptist, Texas at Murchison Gym.

“It was fun seeing Esther get hot and stay hot,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “She was hitting some tough shots too. She had a couple open shots to get her going. Then she was hitting shots off the dribble, hitting shots in transition and hitting shots off screens.”

The previous record was held by Meghan O’Donogue who twice made 10 three-pointers in a game. The first time was against Biola on February 3, 2004. Two weeks later, she drained 10 on 11 attempts against The Master’s College.

Lee made four of her three-pointers in the first half on six attempts. She was also fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three resulting free throws. Lee sank another four three-pointers in the first nine minutes of the second half before nailing three more in a span of 55 seconds.

“It was a pretty easy huddle talk,” described Moore. “It was defend and rebound and get Esther the ball – find her when she is open.”

With 7:36 left in regulation, Lee sank her ninth three-pointer after freshman Aimee Brakken (5 points, 2 assists) fed her the ball. After a layup by the Flying Queens’ Iesha Greer, Lee was passed the ball by Erin Beadle (9 rebounds, 6 assists) and drained her tenth three-pointer with 6:58 showing on the clock.

Seventeen seconds later, Lee picked up a loose ball, stepped back behind the arc and drilled her final three-pointer of the game. As the Westmont faithful roared their approval of Lee’s performance and a 20-point Warrior lead (63-43), Wayland Baptist head coach Alesha Robertson called a timeout.

“At the beginning of the game, (Wayland Baptist) was not doubling inside on Kelsey but they were on our perimeter players,” recounted Moore. “So, Kelsey was getting anything she wanted early on. Then they started doubling her and that opened up our perimeter game. That is the classic inside-out game that we want to be able to play where we have a presence both on the inside and on the perimeter. These last couple of games it has been working great for us.”

Kelsey Sampson put up 20 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Warriors, recording her second double-double of the year.

“Kelsey has continued to be a dominating presence inside. As exciting as it is to see Esther hit 11 threes and set a record, overall, I am most pleased with our rebounding effort. We out-rebounded a very athletic, very strong rebounding team by sixteen tonight (47-31). This last month, we have worked so much on our rebounding and talked about how important that is in order to have a chance to play at a championship level. For us to outrebound a team like this, including 22 offensive rebounds, was huge.

The team will now take a break to allow players to return home for Christmas. The Warriors resume play December 30 and 31 when they host the Westmont Holiday Classic featuring UC Merced (1-7), Dordt of Iowa (6-6) and San Diego Christian (6-2). On Monday, Dordt and San Diego Christian will face off at one o’clock and Westmont will play UC Merced at 5:30 p.m. Then on Tuesday, San Diego Christian will play UC Merced at one and Westmont will take on Dordt at 5:30 p.m.