WBK: Westmont pulls away from Goshen in tourney opener

Seven Warriors tallied eight or more points as 13th-ranked  Westmont posted a 73-53 women’s basketball win over the Maple Leafs of Goshen (Ind.) in the first game of the Best Western Plus Carpinteria Inn Classic at Westmont on Friday evening.

Aysia Shellmire and Esther Lee each contributed 12 points while Kristin Karr added 10.

The Warriors (5-0) had a rough start with the Maple Leafs jumping out to a 10-3 lead. Westmont cut the lead to 12-10 on a layup by Shellmire and a jumper and three-pointer from Lee, but the Warriors did not pull even until just before halftime.

Down 26-22 with three minutes on the first half clock, Lee drained a long-range bomb. Thirty seconds later, Karr did the same thing, giving Westmont its first lead of the night (28-26) with 2:27 left before intermission.

“It was definitely a struggle in the first half,” acknowledged Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “We struggled with making good decisions and taking care of the basketball. They really hurt us on the boards in the first half. Obviously, we fixed some things at halftime that made a difference.

“Amy Brakken (9 points, 3 rebounds) was a huge spark for us,” continued the coach. “She came into the game and took a charge on one of the first possessions down the floor. It was a real momentum changer. She knocked down shots too, but it was the toughness and grittiness that she brought that made the difference.

“Then we followed suite. Lauren Sende (9 points, 11 rebounds) played really aggressive, tough and strong in the second half and changed the dynamic that we were playing with.”

Goshen (5-2) scored nine of the first 11 points in the second half to take a 39-37 lead with 16:42 left in regulation. But over the next eight and one-half minutes, the Warriors put together a 26-2 run to take control of the contest and a 63-41 advantage. The Maple Leafs would get no closer than 18 points the rest of the game.

“We obviously know that we have to be a better basketball team than we were tonight and put together two halves,” said Moore.

The Warriors will have that chance tomorrow night when they take on No. 18 Menlo (5-1) in the final game of the Classic at 7:30 p.m. Menlo lost to #14 The Master’s (2-2) in the second game of the Classic by a score of 60-59.