Fulton, Mo., March 7, 2021 - The Westminster College Blue Jays women's basketball team began their quest for a SLIAC Tournament Title on Wednesday night as they hosted the #7 seeded Iowa Wesleyan Tigers. First there was one detail that needed attended to, Blue Jay Senior Makayla Jackson would be honored prior to the game for her four years of dedication to the program. Jackson, cheered on by her family for the first time in person, would record a double double. Her 12 points and 12 rebounds, both of which were season highs, helped guide the Blue Jays to a 85-69 victory over the Tigers and a berth into the semifinals. The team would also celebrate senior manager Anna Oliver on the night.
Jackson would waste no time getting her and the Blue Jays night off to a good start as she would score just 12 seconds after the tip off to make it 2-0 Westminster. The Tigers would scrape and fight the entire quarter taking a 19-17 lead with :54 left in the quarter. Avylina Powel-Qualo would miss a jumper and Abby Nichols would fly in for the offensive rebound put back to tie the game with :37 left. An Iowa Wesleyan missed jumper led to a defensive rebound by Jackson who outlet the ball to Shelby Kurtz who would find Reese Arnold who would knock down a three just before the first quarter buzzer to give the Blue Jays a 22-19 lead.
In the second quarter the Blue Jays would slowly start to pull away from the Tigers. A Nichols lay-up with 4:30 to play in the half gave the Jays a 32-25 lead. Later another Nichols lay-up with 2:49 to go in the half gave the Blue Jays their first double figure lead at 36-25. A Jackson jumper would give the Jays their final points of the half and they would lead IWU 38-31 at the half.
A Powel-Qualo lay-up followed by a Reese Arnold three pointer off a nice assist by Corrie Reece and the Blue Jays pushed their lead to 15 at 52-37 with 5:27 to play in the 3rd quarter. A Kurtz three-point shot with :40 to play in the third quarter gave the hosts a 66-47 lead, their largest one lead yet. The Blue Jays would cruise to the 85-69 win.
The Blue Jays would have five players in double figures with Powel-Qualo leading the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Reese Arnold would chip in 18 points and 4 assists. Abby Nichols would record a career high 17 points and 11 rebounds, her first collegiate double-double. The player of the night Makayla Jackson would record a double-double 12 points and 12 rebounds to go with three assists. Shelby Kurtz would contribute 10 points. Madison Schaeffer would record 11 rebounds to go with 4 assists.
The Blue Jays dominated the Tigers in the paint outscoring them 62-36. They also controlled the boards 56-30. The Jays also turned Tiger turnovers into 18 points.
The Blue Jays will now turn their attention to Greenville University. Westminster will host Greenville Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Historic Gym. A trip to the SLIAC Tournament Championship will be on the line.