CARLINVILLE, Ill. – Pressure. It can either make diamonds or burst pipes. And hoop dreams.
In the case of the Westminster College women's basketball team, it produced diamonds in the form of baskets, and burst Blackburn College's hoop dreams. The Blue Jays turned up the pressure, forcing 18 turnovers and 14 steals, while scoring 16 points off of turnovers, in a 74-41 thrashing of the Beavers, Saturday afternoon in St. Louis Intercollegiate Conference action. The win was the fourth-straight for the Blue Jays.
"Our defensive intensity helped set the tone in the first half," Westminster Coach Talisha Washington said. "We did a nice job with our defensive rotation. I was proud of our hustle and toughness on the road."
Blackburn held an early 5-0 advantage on a 3-pointer by Savannah Kruse and a Lexie Black layup. However, Westminster stormed back to tie the game, 5-all, with 7:03 left in the first quarter on a Mikalyn Callahan free throw and a pair of buckets by Abby Nichols. The Blue Jays closed the period on a 17-3 run for a 22-8 lead after one.
In the second period, Westminster continued to pour on the pressure, outscoring the Beavers 24-10 to take a 46-18 lead into the locker room at the half. Blackburn never really challenged in the second half, being outscored 17-9 in the third period to trail 63-27. The Beavers did outscore the Blue Jays 14-11 in the fourth quarter, but the damage had been done.
The Westminster defense blanketed the Beavers in the contest, holding Blackburn (5-15; 3-11) to 19 percent shooting from the field (13-69); 22 percent from beyond the arc (4-18).
The Blue Jays scored 10 second-chance points and 18 points in the paint. Westminster was outrebounded by Blackburn 55-50.
Ten Blue Jays scored in the contest for Westminster, which shot 36 percent from the field ((27-74); 42 percent from 3-point range (10-24). Senior guard Kendal Miller led the Blue Jays with 21 points on 8-11 shooting from the field; 5-8 from 3-point range. Corrie Reece was the only other Westminster player in double figures with 15 points; Callahan and Nichols each had 8 points. The Blue Jays bench accounted for 46 points in the contest.
Westminster returns to action on Wednesday when the Blue Jays host Webster University in Historic Gym. Game time is scheduled for 5:30 PM.
"We have to take it one game at a time," Washington said. "We have big challenges facing us this week, but I am confident that our girls will be ready to battle.