Women's Basket Season Ends But Not Without Progress
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Winning back-to-back national championships is an extremely difficult feat in any sport. For the Westmont Women’s Basketball team, their hope of doing so faded away when they lost 66–53 to No. 20 Xavier of Louisiana in Kentucky at the NAIA National Tournament.
The game started off rough for the No. 13 Warriors, with an immediate seven-point deficit only six minutes into the game. The Xavier Gold Nuggets would not look back, only allowing the Warriors to come within eight points the rest of the game.
Whitney Gaston-Loyd, a fourth year from Shreveport, LA, led the Gold Nuggets with 15 points. The six-foot center was too much for the Warriors to handle at times in the post, and posed a mismatch Westmont could not overcome.
Despite being guarded by the six-foot Gaston-Loyd, Kelsie Sampson, a fourth-year from Torrance, CA, put up 26 points, which led all scorers in the game. Even with the great effort from Sampson and Esther Lee, a third-year transfer, the rest of the Warriors were held to just 11 points.
Compounding the problem was the Warriors turnovers, which the team committed eight throughout the first half, resulting in a 42–21 halftime lead in favor of the Golden Nuggets.
The Warriors showed resolve, though, starting the second half with an 11–0 run, making the score 42–32. But the deficit was too great to overcome and the turnovers continued to plague the Warriors in the second half, racking up another six.
Xavier continued their stout defense throughout the second half and finished the game with a 66–53 win over the reigning NAIA National Champions, pushing their record to 24–9 on the year.
With the loss to Xavier in the NAIA National Tournament, this marks the end of the Westmont women’s basketball season. The team finished a respectful 20–10 and two of its players, Sampson and Lee, were named to the GSAC All-American Team. Shortly before the game, Sampson was also named a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NAIA All-American.
The Warriors started the season as the No.1 team in the NAIA, but soon fell due to early season losses to tough opponents. But, like many of coach Kirsten Moore’s teams, they improved greatly throughout the season and started to gain momentum. Despite an early exit from the NAIA Tournament, the season was still considered to be a success by many, because of the incredible players they lost last year, such as the NAIA Player of the Year in Tugce Canitez.
Sampson and Erin Beadle, both fourth-years, will be graduating this season and have had an incredible journey since joining the team in 2010. The two seniors will be honored at the team’s post-season banquet that will happen later in April. The banquet will also take an in-depth look back at the season and the incredible journey the team went through.
Sampson leaves the Warriors with 1,302 total points throughout her four-year career. She also was one of the crucial players in the 2013 National Championship team, leading the team in blocks that season. Beadle was the teams main point guard over the past two seasons and has recorded a 2.94 assist to turnover ratio throughout her four-year career.