Waverly, IA, 12/4/21 – The Westminster College women's basketball team knew they faced a tough opponent Saturday afternoon. The Wartburg College Knights were ranked fifth in the most recent D3hoops.com top 25 national poll. They sported a undefeated 5-0 record and were playing on their home court. The Blue Jays didn't blink in the face of those facts. In fact, they came roaring out of the gates in the first half. At one point in the second quarter, after Annette Ramirez (Sarcoxie, MO / Sarcoxie) was fouled making a three pointer for the rare four-point play, the Blue Jays took an eight-point lead with 3:03 to play before the half 37-29. It would mark the biggest lead of the game for the Blue Jays and the start of the Knights come back. A strong third quarter by the fifth ranked Knights would lead them to a 75-63 come from behind victory over the battle-ready Blue Jays. The loss dropped the Blue Jays to 4-4 on the season while the Knights remained undefeated at 6-0.
There were plenty of positives for the Blue Jays in the first half. Shelby Kurtz (Camdenton, MO / Camdenton) got things started for the Jays hitting a three pointer off of an Avylina Powell-Qualo (Republic, MO / Republic) assist on the game's first possession. The Blue Jays would only trail for one minute of the first half and after a Ramirez lay in with 17 seconds to go in the first quarter gave the Blue Jays a 24-23 lead that they would hold all the way to halftime leading 37-36 at the break.
The second half saw the Knights catch fire from behind the arc. A Kallee Dowler (Barnesville, OH / Barnesville) three pointer off of an Abbie Reece (Cape Girardeau, Mo. / Cape Central) assist with just over seven minutes to play in the third quarter would give the Jays their last lead of the night at 43-42. The Knights would make four threes' in the third quarter on the way to opening up a 59-48 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Blue Jays were ready to tangle with one of the nations best and fought to the end but the Knights would manage to keep the Blue Jays at arm's length the rest of the way in route to the 75-63 victory.
The Blue Jays were led in scoring by Reese Arnold (Lonedell, Mo. / Washington) with 17 points. Ramirez chipped in 12 points off the bench and Powell-Qualo joined them in double figures with ten points. Powell-Qualo led the Jays with ten rebounds giving her a double-double for the second time this season. Arnold would contribute eight rebounds for the Blue Jays who battled but lost the rebounding battle narrowly to the bigger Knights 47-44. Abbie Reece led the team with three assists and Powell-Qualo would record a season high five steals.
The Blue Jays will now take a break to focus on Final Exams this week. The Blue Jays will return to action on Monday December 20th when they will take on the Pioneers of Carroll University in the Daytona Beach Shootout. That game is set for an 11:00 a.m. CST tip-off.