Fulton, MO 1/22/2022- The Westminster College women's basketball team is rounding into form after defeating the Spalding University Golden Eagles Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays tenacious defense set the tone early and led to an 85-59 victory.
Avylina Powell-Qualo (Republic, Mo. / Republic) got Westminster going with a bucket from the right block. The Blue Jays would then jump out to a 20-5 lead with 4:18 left in the first quarter. Madison Schaeffer (Cincinnati, Ohio / Fairfield) made a shot at the buzzer, giving the Jays a 27-12 lead. The Blue Jays' defense limited the Golden Eagles' offense to just four made baskets in the quarter.
A Corrie Reece (Cape Girardeau, Mo. / Cape Central) steal at the start of the second quarter would keep the defensive pressure on Spalding for the rest of the half. Westminster ran a full-court press for most of the first half, forcing the Golden Eagles to turn the ball over twelve times. Olivia Hixson (Neosho, MO / Neosho) cashed in a corner three with 3:02 left in the second quarter to give the Blue Jays a 46-23 lead. The Golden Eagles would then go on a 6-0 run to close out the first half, cutting the lead to 46-30.
Spalding would hit a three-pointer and a layup to start the third quarter shrinking the Blue Jays lead to 13 points. The Jays would answer back with back-to-back layups. Annette Ramirez (Sarcoxie, MO / Sarcoxie) hit a three with 3:05 left in the third quarter to push the Westminster lead back up to 20. Then with seven seconds left, Shelby Kurtz (Camdenton, Mo. / Camdenton) drained a three-point shot to make the score 66-45 after three quarters.
Westminster would have five different players score in double figures. Reese Arnold (Lonedell, Mo. / Washington) led with 15 points. Powell-Qualo scored 14 points and went six for eight from the field. Schaeffer, Ramirez, and Kurtz chipped in 11 points, respectively. Schaeffer would also lead the team in rebounds, steals, and blocks. She brought in eight rebounds, four steals, and four blocks.
The Blue Jays outshot the Golden Eagles 33-70 (47%) to 22-59 (37%) from the field. Westminster shot 10 for 25 (40%) to Spalding's 6 for 18 (33%) behind the arc. Both teams would make nine free throws each. Westminster would dominate the glass, grabbing 41 rebounds to Spalding's 27. Westminster scored 38 points in the painted area. The Jays defense forced 22 turnovers, 17 of those being steals, and would score 26 points off those turnovers.
The Blue Jays improve to 9-8 overall on the season and 5-1 in the SLIAC. They will travel to Blackburn College on Tuesday, January 25th. That game will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. against the Beavers.