COSTA MESA, Calif. – No. 3 Vanguard has yet to be challenged in the 2012-2013 season. In the four games leading up to Saturday's contest with No. 4 Westminster, Vanguard had beaten its opponents by an average of 27.2 points per contest. The Griffins, who traveled from Utah to play two Golden State Athletic Conference schools in two days, managed to keep the game under Vanguard's average margin of victory, but not by much as the Lions defeated WC 73-51 behind a dominant rebounding effort and strong team play.
It took half of the first period for the Lions to get all cylinders firing but once it happened, Vanguard rattled off six straight points, claiming an 18-12 advantage at the 9:03 mark. Senior Esther Timmermans (Melbourne, Australia) commanded the 6-0 run with back-to-back buckets and her Aussie classmate Alison Drennan (Wheelers Hill, Australia) beat her defender on a step through jumper in the paint to post two of her own for the Pride.
The Griffins' Amy Krommenhoek (American Fork, Utah) responded with a 3-pointer to cut the gap to three but junior Taylor Belmont (Oregon City, Ore.) answered immediately as she slashed to the hoop for a lay-up past a slew of Westminster players. On the next two trips A. Drennan took over, first hitting from downtown and then driving baseline on the ensuing possession to send the ball across the court to junior Nicole Ballestero (Orange, Calif.) who was wide open waiting and drained another from behind the arc to give Vanguard a 27-15 edge.
The Lions retired for half-time in custody of a 37-26 lead. Timmermans ended the period one rebound shy of a double-double with ten points while registering two steals for the Blue and Gold. Ballestero was the Lions' scoring leader at the break with 14.
Vanguard operated like a well-oiled machine in the second, especially on the glass where the Lions held a 21-13 rebounding advantage. The Pride stretched the game's margin to 20-points (54-34) at 11:54 following a lay-up from Timmermans. Westminster cut the Lions lead to 16 but Vanguard built another 20-point lead (59-39) five minutes later and coasted the rest of the way.
A. Drennan was very effective in the contest, outhustling her Griffin counterparts to record 7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal for Vanguard.
"Our hard work at practice this week really paid off," A. Drennan said. "We won the event. We took it from the sideline, to the sidewalk, to significance. I feel full of Gold Pride. Glad that Bob Wilson could witness this big win."
Ballestero paced Vanguard with a well-rounded outing which included 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. She shot 7-13 from the field and went 9-12 from the charity stripe. Timmermans registered a monster double-double for the Pride, coming up with 22 points and grabbing a game-high 15 off of the glass for the Pride.
Three Westminster players posted double-digits in the loss.
The Lions out-rebounded the Griffins 42-25 in the match and came up with an impressive 16 offensive boards. Vanguard shot nearly 50 percent (49.1%) from the floor and went 6-11 (54.5%) from 3-point range.
The Lions will play in the Ayres Inn & Suites Lancer Classic at Cal Baptist on December 17th and 18th. Vanguard will face Southwestern Christian at 5:00pm on the 17th and Truman State on at the same time on the 18th.