December 2, 2020

Women’s basketball pounds SLIAC foes, jumps to 2nd place in standings

The Webster University women’s basketball team hops a spot to No. 2 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. As freshmen shine coming off the bench, the Gorloks have the chance to ride a five-game win streak into the conference tournament.

Senior guard Maggie Zehner (center) attempts to dribble around Principia guard Sarah Corbitt during the first half. The Gorloks’ win pushed Webster’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record to 9-4. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS.

Freshman guards Alyssa Sapp and Mia Williams and forward Brittany Harris-Conway have averaged a combined 6.4 points per game and 32.9 minutes played per game.

Webster defeated the Principia College Panthers (Ill.) 64-40 on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Grant Gymnasium to follow up a 65-48 win over the Greenville College (Ill.) Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 2. The wins put the Gorloks’ overall record to 12-10 and gives them a 9-4 SLIAC record. Webster sits in second place all alone, but third place Eureka College (Ill.) plays on Wednesday, Feb. 6. With a win, the Red Devils would create a tie for second behind first place Westminster (Mo.) College.

This past week — as Webster went 2-1 avenging its earlier overtime loss to the Greenville and stomping Princpia by 24 points — Sapp, Williams and Harris-Conway have averaged 11 points and 47 minutes per game.

“Our bench was like the most important part, more than our starters,” said senior guard Gwen Williams. “If they are coming in and scoring just as well as our starters, then that’s our trigger right there.”

Sapp has been deadly from 3-point range as of late, shooting 42.8 percent the past three games to lead the team. Going into the game Tuesday night against Principia, she had more intensity than usual because she expected a few more minutes.

That led to a career-high 8 points and 4 rebounds.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Sapp said. “I’m just glad to be a part of the team and help out in any way possible.”

Sophomore forward/center Cassie Endicott was inactive for the Principia game, so in her place Harris-Conway received a start against Principia. It was only her ninth start on the season. She replaced Endicott by pulling down a career-high 7 rebounds, four of those being on the offensive.

“Anytime a team is going to win a championship and win games you have bench support,” coach Jordan Olufson said. “They (players coming off the bench) were phenomenal and were sparks on offense and defense.”

Olufson said it was a team decision to rest Endicott, and she is expected to play in the next game against Spalding University (Ky.) on Thursday, Feb. 7 at Grant Gymnasium.

This Gorlok team has built success on its ability to be smart with the ball. In nine of Webster’s previous 10 games, the Gorloks have turned over the ball only 17 times or fewer giving them the lowest turnovers per game average in the SLIAC this season. Against Principia, however, they gave away 22 possessions.

“We came off slow,” Williams said. “Our energy was slow and that made everything go down the drain right there.”

Down to the final stretch

Three games remain for Webster in the regular season. All three opponents Webster plays — Spalding, Fontbonne University (Mo.) and Blackburn College (Ill.) — have dropped the season’s first meeting to the Gorloks.

The final two games will be played on the road. Last season, Webster lost three of its final four games on the road.

The team hopes to be riding much hotter into the playoffs this year.

“All these games are really big, we have to win all of them,” Williams said. “Every team we’ve played, we know everything about them and there should be no reason why we should lose.”

Olufson wants the team not to just get on a hot streak but to be playing well, too.

“Everyday we have to get better,” Olufson said. “We are always working on our small goals to reach the big goal.”

That “big goal” is winning the conference championship and earning a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament.

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