FULTON – It was the formula for success: Overall team effort combined with hard, smart play and togetherness. It resulted in a 79-64 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory for the Westminster women's basketball team Wednesday night over Webster University.
It was a formula that also left Westminster Coach James Arnold "blown away."
"Webster is so deep and so good," Arnold said. "They defend as well as anyone in the country and we did an exceptional job of handling it, making the extra pass and finding the open man.
The Blue Jays were adept at finding the "open man" to the tune of 16 assists in the contest.
Westminster (17-5, 11-3) came out on top of a seesaw first quarter that saw four lead changes to take a one-point lead, 17-16. But it was a second quarter that saw the Blue Jays put some distance between themselves and the Gorloks, outscoring Webster 25-10 in the period to take a 42-26 advantage into the locker room at intermission. It was a deficit that the Gorloks would never really recover from, despite starting the second half with a flurry.
The Blue Jays came out cold and flat after halftime but managed to weather a 7-0 run from Webster (15-7, 9-5) to start the third. Westminster finally woke from its slumber on a Mirrakohl Johnson layup and a Kallee Dowler 3-pointer to push the Blue Jays lead back up to 12, with 7:50 remaining in the quarter. Dowler would connect on five long-range bombs (5 of 13) to finish with 15 points.
The Blue Jays would lead by as many as 20 points in the second half to cruise to victory.
Despite the final score, the teams were evenly matched statistically. Both Westminster (26 of 60) and Webster (25 of 58) shot 43 percent from the field in the contest, but the Blue Jays connected on 34 (10-29) percent from 3-point range compared to 27 percent (3-11) from beyond the arc for Webster. Westminster also connected on 68 percent (17-25) from the free-throw line while Webster connected on 65 percent (11-17).
But it was on the boards that the Blue Jays were most dominant, grabbing 40 rebounds compared to just 28 for the Gorloks. The Blue Jays scored 16 fast break points compared to just five for the Gorloks.
Kendahl Adams led Westminster with 20 points, but the night belonged to fellow senior Johnson, who chipped in 19 points in 31 minutes on 4 of 9 shooting from the field; 7 -11 from the free throw line. Johnson not only broke the school's single-season rebounding record in the contest, but with a layup at the 6:37 mark of the first quarter, scored the 1,000th point of her illustrious career.
"MJ is a hall of famer and just continues to be so special," Arnold said. "I am so thankful she was here when I arrived and has adapted so well to our style."
Westminster returns to action on Saturday when the Blue Jays host Principia at 1 PM in Historic Gym on Senior Day.