WBK: Warriors comeback bid falls short against Vanguard

In a defensive struggle between two top-20 teams, #12 Vanguard (14-5, 6-3 GSAC) came out on top of a 53-50 score to defeat #17 Westmont Women’s Basketball (17-5, 4-5) on Tuesday night in a Golden State Athletic Conference game.

“I’ll go to battle with the team that showed up for us tonight,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “We were gritty; we gave ourselves a chance with our defense. It was just hard to get anything going offensively – credit Vanguard’s defense and their defensive game plan.

“Especially in the first half, we struggled to finish inside or finish outside. Obviously, we were able to figure some things out in the second half offensively and still played good defense. We gave ourselves a chance to be in the game if we had just had a few different opportunities down the stretch.”

The Warriors trailed 24-17 at intermission after making just 26.1 percent from the field (6 of 23). Esther Lee, who finished with a team high 14 points, tallied nine points of those points in the first half.

A jumper by Lauren McCoy (11 points, 9 rebounds) and a three-pointer by Celina Gougis (5 points, 2 rebounds) to start the second half narrowed the deficit to just two points (24-22). However, the Lions began building on their advantage and with 7:45 remaining took a 12-point lead (45-33) on a three-pointer by Gionni Blankenship (6 points).

The Warriors responded with an 11-2 run which included three-pointers by Cora Chan (6 points) and Krissy Karr (4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists). That run resulted in a 47-44 score with 3:44 to play.

Vanguard’s Riley Holsinger (7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) nailed a three-pointer to stretch the Lions’ advantage to six (50-44) with three and one-half minutes remaining in regulation. Aysia Shellmire (7 points, 10 rebounds) found the hoop from the paint to cut into the Lion lead, but Maya Kennedy (16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) put Vanguard up 53-46 with a three points with 2:48 to play.

On its ensuing possession, McCoy drew the Warriors to within five with a jumper in the paint. After a Warrior defensive stop, McCoy scored on a layup to make the score 53-50.

Vanguard missed on its next trip down the court, but gathered in an offensive rebound to maintain possession. With the shot clock running down, Samantha Doucette (15 points) launched a shot that missed and was rebounded by the Lions’ Jaime Goff (3 points, 8 rebounds). Then Vanguard head coach Russ Davis, who picked up his 492 victory in the win, called time out.

The Warrior bench and fans erupted with complaints that though the shot clock had expired the officials had not call a shot clock violation. After the officials conferred, they let the non-call stand. Later review of the video showed that Doucette was not yet in a shooting motion when the shot clock turned to zero and that the ball did not leave her hand until 0.6 seconds after the horn had sounded.

With approximately 45 seconds remaining in the game, Vanguard inbounded the ball with a fresh 30 second shot clock. Once again, Doucette put up a shot but this time her miss was corralled by Gougis. The Warriors quickly brought the ball up court and Moore called time out with 8.8 seconds left in the game.

“We elected not to foul because Vanguard is such a good free throw shooting team,” explained Moore. “The strategy worked, but obviously could have worked better if we had had more time on the offensive end.”

When play resumed, Gougis was able to get off a three-point attempt that missed. Esther Lee gathered in the long rebound and began to pass the ball to Karr for another attempt. However, an official unexpectedly blew his whistle to stop play.

“We had gotten the offensive board so I yelled ‘kick out’ because Krissy was going to have an open look from three,” explained Moore “The official thought I said ‘time out’. It’s ironic because usually the officials don’t hear me at all when I am trying to call a timeout.”

After conferring with each other, the officials changed the clock from 1.1 to 1.9 seconds remaining, giving Westmont one last chance.

Krissy Karr got the ball in the corner and launched a three-point attempt, but it fell short and Vanguard walked away with a hard fought victory.

The Warriors will look to get back on the winning track when they travel to Irvine on Saturday to take on the Eagles of Concordia. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.