GREENVILLE, Ill. - Westminster women's basketball defeated Greenville 73-67 to become just the second No. 4 seed in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history to advance to the title game.
The Blue Jays will face Webster, the No. 3 seed, in the first underdog matchup in SLIAC championship game history.
"At this point in the season, we as coaches can't do much to influence the outcome of these games," said Westminster Head Coach James Arnold. "It's up to the team to show up and play well, and we did that today."
Despite getting out to a slow start and finding themselves down 5-0 after the first two minutes of the game, a Mirrakohl Johnson jump shot put the Blue Jays back on track at the 8:18 mark, sparking a 6-0 run to take the lead with 6:40 to play in the first quarter.
After three more lead changes in the quarter, Greenville took a 15-10 lead, the largest of the game so far, with under two minutes remaining. Kendahl Adams hit a three-pointer to close the Panther lead to two at the end of the first 10 minutes of play.
Westminster was able to tie the game again at 18 points apiece when Kendal Miller hit a three-pointer from the corner at the 8:18 mark of the second quarter. A layup and two made freethrows from Jahne Williams gave Westminster the 22-20 lead for the first time in the quarter.
The Panthers managed to tie the game two more times in the rest of the quarter, but Westminster never gave up its lead. Miller hit another three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blue Jays the 31-27 halftime lead, their largest of the game.
Johnson and Adams combined for six points to open the second half, extending the Westminster lead to 37-30. Westminster held their seven-point lead for over a minute, but Greenville went on a small 5-0 run to bring their deficit back to just two points.
A Grace Archambault three-point play broke up the Greenville run, but the Panthers scored five more points to tie the game at 43 at the 5:31 mark of the third quarter.
Westminster continued to hang on to their small lead until the Panthers hit a three-point play to go up 50-48 with just over two minutes remaining in the period. Jump shots from Archambault and Johnson to close the half gave Westminster the 52-51 advantage going into the final 10 minutes of play.
The opening five minutes of the fourth quarter featured five lead changes as each team continued to trade baskets. A three-pointer from Mikalyn Callahan at the 5:18 mark tied the game at 59 apiece. The Panthers hit three freethrows to take back the lead, but a Kelsey Ray three-pointer again tied the game at 62 with 4:09 to play.
Yet another three-pointer for the Blue Jays, this time from Kendahl Adams, gave Westminster the 67-64 lead with just over two minutes to play. A defensive stop and rebound from Archambault forced the Panthers to have to foul to regain possession of the ball, but offensive rebounds from Callahan and Adams kept the Blue Jay possession alive and sealed their postseason championship fate.
Adams led the Blue Jays with 17 points, including seven rebounds and four assists. Ray added 12 points while Johnson and Callahan both recorded 10 in the Westminster win.
"Credit to Greenville who played a great season," said Arnold. "They continued to hit big shots down the stretch and we were fortunate enough to have more fall for us today."
The Blue Jays play in the championship game Saturday against Webster at 7 p.m.