ST. LOUIS, Mo. –The Westminster College women's basketball team went into Saturday afternoon's road matchup with St. Louis Intercollegiate Conference leader Fontbonne University battling to keep its postseason tournament dreams afloat. Those hoop dreams stayed alive with a 79-75 come-from-behind victory over the Griffins.
"It was a great win for us today," Coach Talisha Washington said. "Our girls played hard and competed for all four quarters."
Fontbonne jumped out to a 9-0 lead to open the game before a Reece Arnold basket got the Blue Jays on the scoreboard. The Griffins led by as many as 11 in the quarter, 17-6, but Westminster outscored Fontbonne, 6-5, to trail at the end of the period, 22-12. In the second period, Westminster battled back, using a 10-6 run to pull within six, 28-22, with 7:44 remaining in the half. The Blue Jays continued to claw, outscoring Fontbonne in the quarter, 24-16, to trail at intermission, 38-36.
In the third, neither team could find much separation. The Griffins led by as many as six, 54-48, but Westminster continued to fight, pulling to within one, 57-56, on an Abbie Reece buzzer-beater off an assist by her twin, Corrie Reece.
Westminster took its first lead of the contest, 58-57, on a Mikalyn Callahan basket and increased it to three, 60-57. Fontbonne would regain the lead, 62-60, and the teams would trade scores until Westminster went ahead for good, 67-65, on a basket by Callahan. The Blue Jays would outscore Fontbonne down the stretch, 12-10, to seal the win.
"The girls executed well on both ends," Washington said. "We did a nice job with our shot selection in the second half as well as a nice job of protecting the paint."
Westminster shot 45 percent (25-55) from the field; 39 percent (7-18) from 3-point range. From the free-throw-line, the Blue Jays were 22 of 26 for 85 percent, including five clutch free throws from Arnold down the stretch. Westminster held Fontbonne (14-9; 13-3) to just 9-11 from the charity stripe.
"One of the keys we discussed before the game was limiting their attempts from the free-throw line," Washington said. "We did a nice job of moving our feet and playing solid defense."
Early in the contest, Westminster struggled with maintaining control of the basketball, committing 11 turnovers in the first half alone. They improved in the second half, turning the ball over just twice with a total of 13 for the game.
Westminster was outscored in points off turnovers, 14-9, second-chance points, 16-9, points in the paint, 40-26, and fastbreak points, 9-2; but outscored the Griffins where it counted most – free throws (22-11), bench points (6-4), and on the scoreboard.
Four Blue Jays finished in double figures for Westminster. Callahan and Arnold led Westminster in scoring with 22 points apiece; Kallie Dowler added 21. Callahan also pulled down 10 rebounds for Westminster. Rylee Stafford led Fontbonne with 24 points.
Westminster (11-12; 10-6) returns to action on Wednesday when the Blue Jays travel to Louisville, Ky., to face Spalding University.