GREENVILLE, Ill. - Westminster women's basketball 2018-19 season came to a close in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Semifinal game, falling 75-67 to Spalding University.
The Blue Jays end the season 19-7 overall.
"It's always tough when a season ends, especially one like this," said Westminster Head Coach James Arnold. "This is as special of a group as I've ever coached."
The Golden Eagles scored the first five points of the game until the Blue Jays got on the board at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter when Mirrakohl Johnson hit a layup.
Westminster managed to tie the game at seven with a three-pointer from Kalle Dowler and a basket from Kendahl Adams, but Spalding refused to give up their lead, pulling ahead by as many as nine points in the first quarter. A jump shot from Abbie Reece at the buzzer made the score 20-13 after the first quarter.
The Blue Jays pulled back within two points when Dowler hit back-to-back threes to make the score 24-22 with seven minutes to play in the half. Westminster pulled within one point of the lead twice over the next six minutes, but Spalding continued to make shots and hold their lead. Reece again knocked down a three-pointer to end the half with Westminster down 35-34.
Spalding held their small lead until the Blue Jays took the first lead of the game at the 5:56 mark when Mackayla Jackson hit a three-pointer, but the lead was short-lived when Spalding hit a layup to pull ahead 41-40 in the next possession.
Reece took back the lead with a layup and this time the Blue Jays pieced together a a small 5-0 run to take a 45-42 lead with 3:47 to play in the third quarter. Westminster took a five-point lead, leading 53-48, by the end of the third quarter.
"I was really impressed with our effort in the third quarter," said Arnold. "We were tough, got to the freethrow line, defended, and hit the glass hard. Most importantly, we took care of the ball."
Spalding opened the fourth quarter with a 15-0 run over the opening 4:17 of the quarter, marking the first double-digit lead of the game. Westminster answered with a 6-0 run of their own featuring five points from Adams to come back within four points.
"The start of the fourth quarter was a different story," said Arnold. "Spalding was really able to take momentum. We had some tough turnovers, missed a few opportunities in the paint, and didn't handle physical play. I didn't have a great fourth quarter and that will stick with me."
Despite six more points from Adams to close the game, Westminster was never able to come closer than four points of the lead in the final minutes of the game, ending the season with a 75-67 loss.
Adams led the team with 19 points and eight rebounds, followed by 15 points off the bench from Mikalyn Callahan. Dowler chipped in 11 points, including three three-pointers, while Johnson grabbed 15 rebounds.
"Kendahl and MJ made my life easier these last two years," said Arnold. "I'm forever grateful for their efforts and trust. This entire team is so talented and I'm excited for the youth and underclassmen that helped put together this kind of year. We accomplished a ton this year, especially overcoming a major injury with the SLIAC being as good as it;s ever been."