WBK: Westmont falls at No. 1 Vanguard

Top-ranked and undefeated Vanguard defeated No. 10 Westmont (15-7, 6-3) for the second time this season, posting a 68-56 Golden State Athletic Conference women’s basketballwin in Costa Mesa on Tuesday.

The loss drops the Warriors (15-7, 6-3) into fourth place in the conference standings, one game behind ninth-ranked The Master’s and No. 17 Hope International who have identical overall records of 19-5 and are tied for second in the GSAC standings at 7-2.

The Warriors enjoyed a 47-39 rebound advantage, but it was not enough to overcome a 12-8 turnover deficit or a field goal percentage deficit of 45.8 (27 of 59) to 30.8 (20 of 65). Westmont took 28 shots from three-point range but drained only eight. While the Warriors pulled down 21 offensive boards, they only tallied 11 second-chance points.

Kelsie Sampson recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds. She also had three assists and three steals. Celina Gougis contributed 15 points, six rebounds and three assists while Esther Lee added 11 points to the Warrior cause. Lauren Sende recorded 10 rebounds and four points.

Vanguard (20-0, 9-0 GSAC) scored the first seven points of the game on its way to a 13-4 lead a little over four minutes into the contest. With the Lions up 17-9 with 12 and one-half minutes remaining, Sende hit a jumper to spark a 7-0 run that pulled the Warriors within one (17-16). The run continued with two free throws by Sampson and concluded with a three-point bucket by Gougis.

However, the Warriors would not catch the Lions for another seven minutes when a jumper by Sampson tied the score at 26. After a Vanguard turnover, Natalie Florescu nailed one of her two three-pointers to give Westmont a 29-26 advantage. It proved to be their only lead of the game. The Lions concluded the first half with a 7-0 run to take a 33-29 lead into the locker room.

When play resumed, Lee drained a three-pointer to make it a 33-32 score. Vanguard responded with a layup by Ashleigh Anderson (5 points, 12 rebounds), but Sampson did the same, making the score 35-34. Over the next four minutes, however, the Lions outscored the Warriors 8-2 to post a 43-36 advantage. The Lions did not let Westmont get closer than three points the rest of the way.

Vanguard was led in scoring by Samantha Doucette with 18 points. Nicole Ballestero added 17 points while Taylor Belmont notched 15 points and seven rebounds.

On Saturday, Westmont will look to avenge a 60-49 loss in Fullerton when they welcome Hope International into Murchison Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.