Video by Sam Masterson
The Webster University women’s basketball team put an end to its regular season with a split with two conference rivals. Even with the split, Webster will advance to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship tournament as the No. 2 seed.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Gorloks fell to Fontbonne University (Mo.) 70-65. Webster bounced back with a double-digit win over Blackburn College (Ill.) to secure the second seed in the 2013 SLIAC championship tournament.
The Gorloks were able to finish the season with an 11-5 record in SLIAC play, but senior guard Maggie Zehner said the team could have played better in the last two games.
“The Fontbonne game was a big disappointment,” Zehner said. “We got the win in Blackburn, but you can tell by the stats it was sloppy. We beat ourselves, and didn’t do the things we needed to do.”
The Griffins accumulated 23 offensive rebounds against the Gorloks, which led to many second-chance opportunities. Webster also turned the ball over 17 times against Fontbonne.
The Gorloks were able to tie the Griffins five different times during the game, but were unable to make a lead stand up as they fell on the road. Zehner said Webster didn’t box out at all against Fontbonne, and the game shouldn’t have come down to wire like it did.
However, coach Jordan Olufson said he tells his players to not have their heads down after a loss, and that they responded well against Blackburn in Carlinville, Ill., on Saturday, Feb. 16. He said the main difference against the Beavers was the Gorloks were able to play defense.
“Our defense was fantastic (against Blackburn),” Olufson said. “We didn’t let them get middle (court). We did a lot better job on rebounding. I just thought overall in every category we did better than we did Wednesday (Feb. 13) night.”
In the first half of the game against Blackburn, Webster held the Beavers to just 17 points. In both halves against the Beavers, the Gorloks offensively were in the high 20s in points scored.
Zehner said Blackburn is a tough place to play, and there were a lot of fouls during the game. The Beavers managed 10 steals against the Gorloks, but Webster had the better shooting percentage. The Gorloks shot 38 percent in field goals made and 43 percent from behind the 3-point mark. Blackburn shot over 18 percent from the field and only made one 3-pointer.
“It got intense,” Zehner said. “A couple of people went down pretty hard a few times, but we responded well to that and fought back hard. They hit us, we hit back — so we did all right.”
Zehner was the lead scorer for the Gorloks’ tussle with Blackburn with 17 points. Sophomore forward/center Cassie Endicott followed close behind with 16 points and 8 blocks against the Beavers.
Olufson was also pleased with the play of junior guard Kaliann Rikard.
“She (Rikard) probably had a two-week struggle, and she got double figures and did a great job rebounding,” Olufson said. “I really think in our game (against Blackburn) everybody contributed. It was a team effort. Everybody came in and gave us minutes, if it was scoring or if it was rebounding. From my standpoint, I was pleased with our team effort from top to bottom.”
For now, the Gorloks are focused on what’s ahead: the SLIAC championship tournament. Westminster College (Mo.) will host as the No. 1 seed in Fulton. In the first round of the tournament, the Gorloks will face Eureka College (Ill.) which they split with in two games this season. The Gorloks will take on the Red Devils on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Fulton.
“Coming into the tournament, the season is kind of forgotten,” Zehner said. “It doesn’t matter that we split with Eureka. It doesn’t matter that Westminster is No. 1. None of it matters. Everybody is going to come in with a clean slate, playing harder than they’ve ever played before. It’s going to be a whole new game.”