Webster tips Spalding, stays in post-season hunt

Megan Willett Webster women's basketball
Webster University junior Megan Willett tries to drive by Spalding’s Beth Jamison in the Gorloks’ 53-50 win on Feb. 11. Willett scored 13 points in the game.

What a difference a day can make. After suffering a tough loss to Blackburn College two days earlier, the Webster University women’s basketball team, aided by coach Jordan Olufson, got back on the right track.
“I think I am pretty active,” Olufson said. “I tell the girls that I like to think of myself as the sixth man out there. I feel like if I can bring energy, they can feed off it.”
Behind Olufson’s enthusiasm, the Gorloks pulled it together and defeated Spalding University 53-50 on Feb. 11 in Grant Gymnasium. The hard-fought win moved the Gorloks to within a half-game of second place Spalding in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Gorloks are now 14-8 overall and improved to 9-4 in the SLIAC.
Olufson said his team needed to focus on getting rid of the mental mistakes and eliminating the poor defense that plagued them in the Blackburn game. The Gorloks had several unforced turnovers and lacked intensity in the 59-45 loss at home.
“At practice, we put eight to nine girls on the floor to handle pressure, traps and things like that,” Olufson said. “The other night was tough. We thought we were getting pressure, but after looking at the tape, we weren’t. Our problems were more psychological and mental.”
Spalding jumped out to an 8-0 lead and it looked like it might be another long night for the Gorloks. But Webster came back strong and went on an 11-1 run to take the lead.
“We were ready for a comeback,” said sophomore guard Maggie Zehner. “The other night was so rough; we were not going to let that happen again. We have a couple of seniors we are playing for.”
With less than one minute before halftime, Webster put on a sensational passing play that ended with junior Megan Willett scoring a basket. The Gorloks held a slim 26-23 halftime lead.
“Coach emphasized shortening up the passes,” Willett said. “He says we have to be patient. It’s not always the first pass or the one that looks open. It doesn’t have to be an ESPN pass.”
Senior forward Katy Meyer, who led the Gorloks with 21 points, hit her fourth 3-point shot of the game to open up Webster’s biggest lead, 36-29, with a little more than 11 minutes left. But Spalding, behind junior forward Kelly Harrod’s 29 points, would not go away. Harrod, who scored 10 straight points, hit a basket to cut the Webster lead to two, 43-41.
On the next Spalding possession, Willett blocked Harrod’s shot and scored on a short jumper at the other end to help the Gorloks wrap up the win.
“We always talk about the team,” Olufson said. “We say one person is not going to beat you, which is kind of funny; Harrod had 29 and they lost.”
Webster plays at undefeated Westminster College on Feb. 16 before returning home for Senior Day on Feb. 19 against Greenville College. Westminster handed the Gorloks their worst loss of the season, 89-65, on Jan. 19, but Olufson still has confidence that his team can pull off the upset.
“We think Westminster might be getting ripe and we might be able to go there and sneak out a win,” Olufson said. “You never know what can happen. This is why college basketball is so great.”

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