Fulton, Mo., March 27, 2021 - The Westminster College Blue Jays came into Saturday nights game at Eureka College on top of the SLIAC regular season race. They needed to win to keep one step ahead of Webster University. The Blue Jays did just that in a 89-71 victory at Eureka. It did not come easy.
The Blue Jays started sluggishly. They missed multiple lay ups and other shots they normally make. Eureka would get hot from three-point range and forge ahead early. Back to back three's by Eureka gave the Red Devils their biggest lead of the game at 35-28. The Blue Jays would begin to make a comeback. Madison Schaeffer who was well on her way to a good night offensively began to assert herself even more. She made a great move on the post up and finished to cut the lead to 35-30. The two-pronged attack of Schaeffer and Avylina Powel-Qualo down low proved too much for the Red Devils as they drew foul after foul. Eureka found themselves in significant foul trouble before the half. Powel Qualo would make one of two free throws next to make it 35-31. Makayla Jackson then hit a driving lay up while getting fouled to make it 35-33 at the half and the Blue Jays were just getting going.
The Jays then came out in the second half already on a 5-0 run at the end of the half and would add to it. Back to back to back buckets by Powel-Qualo extended the run to 11-0 and gave the Blue Jays a four-point lead at 39-35.
Later on Schaeffer and Shelby Kurtz would combine for a 9-2 run that would give Westminster a 51-42 lead, their largest of the game so far. A Kallee Dowler three point shot with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter pushed the lead to double figures at 60-50. It would stay at 10 points 64-54 heading into the final quarter.
Eureka would make a run to close the lead to six points but their head coach was whistled for a technical foul. Reese Arnold would step to the line and swish two three throws and then convert a driving layup on the ensuing possession for a four-point possession that put the lead back to double figures. The Blue Jays would only continue to widen the lead in the fourth on the way to the crucial win. The Blue Jays improve to 9-2 overall and 7-1 in the SLIAC. The win also sets up a showdown for the conference regular season championship on Wednesday in St. Louis against Webster. It will be the Blue Jays last regular season game of the year due to Spalding University's (April 3rd now cancelled game) women's team being in COVID-19 protocols.
Arnold led the Blue Jays in scoring with 23 points. Schaeffer and Powel-Qualo followed with 18 points and 15 points respectively. Jackson, Dowler and Kurtz each chipped in nine apiece.
Powel Qualo led the team in rebounding with eight. Kurtz had seven off the bench and Schaeffer had six. The Blue Jays lost the battle of the boards in this one 41-45. The Jays shot 45.7% from the field, 40% from the three-point line.
The Blue Jays will be back in action in St. Louis on Wednesday at Webster University. First place is on the line for the winner. Tip off is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.