The Webster University women’s basketball team suffered two consecutive blowout losses to rivals Westminster College, 74-58, in Fulton, Mo., on Feb. 1, and 81-65 to Eureka College at Grant Gymnasium on Feb. 4. Webster earned an ugly win when it traveled to Elsah, Ill., on Feb. 7 and drubbed Principia College 49-37 in a poor shooting contest that put a stop to the Gorloks’ two-game slide.
“We rebounded much better against Principia than we did the last two games, when we got pounded on the boards,” Webster assistant coach Jeff Stevens said. “Against Westminster and Eureka, we just were not that good. Tonight we didn’t miss as many assignments on defense and we rebounded better.”
Led by freshman Cassie Endicott’s nine rebounds, the Gorloks outrebounded Principia, 28-21.
Although the Gorloks picked up the much-needed win, it did not come easily. Webster was constantly harassed by Principia senior Lindsay Sydness, who amassed 17 blocks in the game. Sydness was just one block shy of the NCAA Division III record of 18 blocks in a single game, which was set back in 1995.
“She really got those blocks and she was tough,” Stevens said. “But we just didn’t shoot that well.”
Junior point guard Maggie Zehner chipped in 11 points, including 3 of 6 from the 3-point arc, as the Gorloks built a comfortable 25-8 halftime lead. Although Webster shot an anemic 27 percent from the field, it still managed to win in large part because of Zehner’s outstanding shooting.
Zehner has been on a shooting roll the last three games, as she’s hit 60 percent of her shots from beyond the 3-point line. She made 12 3-pointers during that span.
Webster played its sixth straight game without top defensive player and leading scorer — junior guard Gwen Williams — who has been suspended indefinitely for academic reasons. It is unknown if Williams will return this season.
“Not having Williams hurts us, but other girls have stepped up and are picking up the slack,” Stevens said. “We just have to be more consistent. Our transition game has to get better.”
Westminster, which was upset by the Gorloks in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship game last season, led 41-25 at the half and cruised to an easy victory last week.
Zehner scored 17 points against the Blue Jays and hit five of nine shots from the 3-point line. Senior forward Tori Fenemor had a season-high 12 points. Rachel Backes, a constant nemesis of the Gorloks, led the Blue Jays with 18 points. Westminster is now in first place in the SLIAC.
Eureka, which is just a half-game off the lead in the SLIAC, ran away from the Gorloks, as Webster had no answers for Khassandrae Brown, who scored 24 points and had 19 rebounds. Caty Eeten added 29 points for Eureka in the lopsided game. Zehner once again led the Gorloks with 16 points. She also grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and had four steals before fouling out of the game.
The win against Principia allows the Gorloks to hold on to the fourth and final spot for the SLIAC tournament — for now.
Webster is 9-12 overall and 7-5 in the SLIAC. The Gorloks travel to Louisville, Ky., to face Spalding University on Feb. 11 in a crucial showdown. Spalding currently is in fifth place in the SLIAC, but a win against Webster would put the Golden Eagles ahead of the Gorloks. Spalding will not be able to play in the SLIAC tournament until next year, though.
“I know coach hates to go down to Spalding, and it will be tough game,” Stevens said. “But we’ll be ready.”