Westminster uses huge second half to pull away from Gorloks

Webster University sophomore guard Hillary Trimble defends Westminster College senior guard Rachel Backes during the Gorloks' 69-34 loss to the Blue Jays on Feb. 24 in Fulton, Mo.

On Feb. 26, 2011, the Webster University women’s basketball team stunned top-seeded Westminster College on the Blue Jays’ home court, 74-58, in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship.

On Feb. 24, 2012, Westminster got its revenge. The No. 1-seeded Blue Jays used a huge second-half surge to blow out the fourth-seeded Gorloks 69-34 in a SLIAC semifinal in Fulton, Mo. Westminster held Webster scoreless over the game’s final 12 minutes, 40 seconds.

Westminster coach Tracey Braden said her team didn’t use last year’s result as motivation for this year’s rematch.

“I’m going to be honest — we have not talked about (last year) because this is our focus,” Braden said. “Our focus is this team, this year. Last year’s over and done with. Webster has a new team, we have a new team; this is a new opportunity. It’s not the same season or anything.

“So, other than focusing on Webster and that was who our opponent was, we didn’t talk about last year. It was what do we need to do tonight to put us in the position for where we want to be for Saturday.”

With the loss, the Gorloks ended their season with a 12-14 overall record. Webster was 10-6 in SLIAC play.

Webster held an early 8-5 lead, but Westminster went on a 16-5 run to take a 21-13 advantage with 9:20 remaining in the first half.

The Gorloks chipped away at the Blue Jays’ lead and entered halftime down 33-27. An upset for the second straight year was not out of the question.

But in the second half, poor shooting and turnovers by Webster and stellar defense by Westminster did the Gorloks in.

Webster connected on only 3 of 29 field-goal attempts during the half (10.3 percent). The Gorloks missed all 10 of their 3-point shots in the half and went 0 of 13 for the game. Webster turned the ball over 33 times, compared to 16 turnovers by Westminster.

The Blue Jays outscored Webster 36-7 in the second half. Westminster hit 43.8 percent of its second-half field goals. Several Gorlok turnovers led to easy transition layups for the Blue Jays.

“We missed a couple shots and got down,” Webster coach Jordan Olufson said. “When we don’t make shots and the other team makes shots, it’s a hard thing to handle. We didn’t handle it real well. They made a run — instead of fighting back, we kind of just laid down. By the time we made a run, we were dug deep a little too much.”

With the win, Westminster advanced to the SLIAC tournament championship for the second straight year. The Blue Jays will take on Eureka College, who knocked off third-seeded Fontbonne University 63-56 in the other semifinal. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 in Fulton.

Check out the print edition of The Journal for full coverage of the Webster women’s basketball team.

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