WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. –When Westminster College and Webster University's women's basketball teams meet, it's usually a classic – a game featuring two good teams that goes down to the wire. Saturday's matchup was no different, with two good teams going down to the final buzzer as well. In the end the Gorloks handed the Blue Jays their first St. Louis Intercollegiate Conference loss of the season, 71-70, Saturday on the road in Webster Groves.
"I was really proud of our effort to overcome the hole we were in and give ourselves a chance in the end," Westminster Coach James Arnold said. "That's a sign of a tough team."
Webster (10-3; 5-1) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and lead by as many as 10 points, en route to a 23-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Blue Jays were able to chip away at the Gorloks' lead thanks to an 11-3 run to tie the game briefly, 26-all, but Webster managed to hold a four-point margin at intermission, 35 -31.
Webster would outscore the Blue Jays, 22-17, in the third quarter to take a 57-48 lead heading into the decisive fourth quarter. In the fourth, after the Gorloks built a 10-point lead, 60-50, a pair of layups by Abbie Reece and Kendahl Adams and a free throw by Adams cut the Webster lead to five, 60-55. Following a Webster layup, the Blue Jays would respond and mount a 9-2 run to tie the game, 64-all, with 4:51 remaining.
Westminster would take its first lead of the game, 66-64, with 3:38 showing on the clock, but that lead would only be temporary. Both teams would trade baskets for the next three minutes and the Blue Jays would take their final lead of the day, 70-69, on an Adams jumper with 55 seconds left in the game. Webster's Naomi Johnson responded with a jumper of her own with 32 seconds to go and a 71-70 Gorloks lead.
"I thought when we were able to take our first lead it might be enough to steal the win, but credit Webster for making a few huge buckets," Arnold said. "They came up with some big offensive boards."
The Blue Jays had opportunities down the stretch, but two key turnovers sealed Westminster's fate. The Blue Jays turned the ball over 18 times compared to 16 for the Gorloks.
"Road conference games are so tough and every mistake and missed opportunity is magnified, especially against a good team," Arnold said. "Webster's pressure is really good and really drives their attack. At times we handled it well and at other times it led to some easy baskets for them."
Westminster shot 44 percent from the field in the game (25-of-57) compared to 48 percent for Webster (30-62). The Blue Jays shot 36 percent from 3-point range (5-14) and 65 percent from the free-throw line (15-23), compared to 38 percent (5-13) and 50 percent (6-12) for Webster from the beyond the arc and the free-throw line, respectively.
The Blue Jays out-rebounded the Gorloks 37-34.
Westminster (10-3; 5-1) returns to action on Tuesday when the Blue Jays travel to Principia.