FULTON – After a mediocre first half and a challenge by their coach at halftime, the Westminster women's basketball team bounced back in the second half, demonstrating grit and toughness in a 91-87 victory over Spalding University. With the win the Blue Jays improve to 10-2 on the season and remain undefeated in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with a 5-0 mark.
"I was really proud of our ladies," Westminster Coach James Arnold said. "They found a way to show some toughness in the second half to beat a really good Spalding team."
Spalding opened the scoring to take a quick 2-0 lead, but the Blue Jays responded with a 12-2 run to take a 12-4 lead midway through the first quarter. The Eagles rallied with a 12-6 run of its own to pull within two at the end of the period, 18-16.
Spalding would tie the game at 18-all to start the second quarter on a Hannah Renfro layup, but Westminster responded with a Kallee Dowler 3-point basket to put the Blue Jays back on top, 21-18. Both teams traded baskets and lead changes in the period until an Alex Martin trey broke a 28-all tie, giving the Eagles a 31-28 advantage with 5:26 before intermission. Martin's bucket sparked a 21-11 run by Spalding to close out the quarter and put them up at halftime, 49-39.
In the second half, an undaunted Westminster squad tenaciously chipped away at the Spalding lead. The Blue Jays would pull to within one, 59-58, following a defensive rebound and layup by senior guard Kendahl Adams with 3:12 remaining in the period. Westminster would eventually regain the lead on a pair of free throws by Adams, 60-59, and lead at the end of the third, 67-65.
In the fourth quarter, the Blue Jays would take the lead for good, 85-82, on a Mirrakohl Johnson basket and free throw with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
Adams finished the contest with a team-high 26 points (9 of 19 fg; 7-10 ft) and 10 rebounds, including key free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.
"Kendahl Adams showed in the second half why she is a league MVP candidate," Arnold said. "I can't say enough about the grit and toughness she showed."
Also scoring in double figures for the Blue Jays were Abbie Reece with 17 points and Dowler added 15. Kendal Miller chipped in 10 points off the bench. Martin led five Spalding (7-5, 3-1) players in double figures with a game-high 29 points while Maleah Hirn chipped in 14. Both Tse Gahagan and Renfro each added 13 for the Eagles.
The Blue Jays were on fire from 3-point range in the contest, shooting 65 percent on 13 of 20 shooting. Dowler was a scintillating 5 of 6 from beyond the arc while both Reece and Miller were 3 of 4 from long distance.
"It's such a big boost when you can get hot from behind the arc," Arnold said. "When we are hitting it can provide a bit of a security blanket and tonight we needed that. Abbie Reece is a special, talented freshman and it showed tonight; Kendal Miller hit some massive shots."
Westminster returns to action on Saturday when the Blue Jays travel to St. Louis to face Webster.